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96-Year-Old Restaurant Worker Keeps Customers Smiling

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) - Eloise Ketchum works at a Fort Worth’s Braum’s store.

“Eloise has been working here 17 years,” said store manager Rhonda Siver. “She worked for us for five years, then took a couple of years break, and then she’s come back and worked non-stop since 2002.”

“I do the register and check the dates to make sure everything is current,” Ketchum said as her eyes scanned the dates on meat packages in the grocery portion of the Braum’s where she works.

Wednesday, her coworkers helped Ketchum celebrate a special day.

“It’s my birthday!” Ketchum cheerfully told a regular customer as she bagged his groceries.

“Oh yeah?” the customer asked. “How old are you now?”

“I’m 96,” Ketchum proudly replied.

You wouldn’t know she was 96 by looking. Ketchum is spry, quick-witted and laughs freely.

“When I first was coming to this store and I was told I was going to be working with someone in their nineties I was like, ‘Oh my God!'” Siver said. “But then when I got here she was just such a joy to work with.”

“I love my customers and I love the people I work with,” Ketchum said. “I think a lot of people come in here with their minds somewhere else. And we joke. Especially older people, And it makes their day a brighter day.”

“Hi! How are you?” Ketchum greeted another regular customer as she smiled broadly. Ketchum noticed the customer was without his long-time girlfriend. “Where’s my friend? Tell her I want to see her!”

“I come in here in one of those old grouchy moods, but she can put you in a good mood before you get out that door,” laughed long time customer Bill Wilson.

“I want them to leave happy, have a good day,” Ketchum said.

“When we clock in it says on the register, ‘Make the guest happy,'” Siver said. “They probably got that from Eloise!”

There was one time when Ketchum couldn’t work.

“I broke a bone in my foot just recently and I had to sit home five and a half weeks,” Ketchum explained.

She may have been stuck at home, but Ketchum’s coworkers say her mind was still at work.

“In the back of my mind, I was wondering if she would be able to come back after that broken foot,” Siver said. “But she was calling me every week telling me, ‘I’ll be back’.”

“I hate staying home,” Ketchum said. “I thank God every morning that I can get up and I can go.”

“I think it’s what keeps her so young, coming up here and seeing the people she likes to see and doing what she likes to do,” Siver said. “She’s such a beautiful person. I want to be like her when I grow up.”

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