GASTON COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Most people don't start their career at 18 years old and hope to work forever, but for Patsy Walker, she never hoped for anything but.
Friday afternoon, after 57 years with the Gaston County Department of Social Services, Patsy said goodbye to friends that have become family over the past 6 decades.
"Its going to be a big adjustment, but I can do it," said Patsy from her corner office in the Human Services building.
She started her career as a receptionist and after 9 promotions, is ending her career as a supervisor over Medicaid services. If you're wondering what's kept her in the same field for 57 years, she'll answer almost like the question doesn't make any sense, "because I love it."
At 77 years old, Patsy didn't choose retirement, unfortunately, it chose her.
She suffers from COPD and is supposed to take oxygen 24 hours a day. Sometimes walking and talking is hard and requires a lot of effort to breathe. She wouldn't leave unless her health required it.
While a reception was planned for weeks to end her career surrounded by a room full of friends, Patsy didn't know all those friends had purchased and planted a tree in front of her building and dedicated it to her.
She also didn't know she would be awarded with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the most prestigious awards from Governor Pat McCrory's office. The honor is only fitting though, when you consider, even Patsy's boss couldn't get through an interview about her, without crying.