Francie Troxel, celebrating her 82nd birthday today, intends to “work until I get old.”
Troxel has watched over the tray line in Allen County Hospital’s kitchen the past 18 years and has 24 years on the job at ACH in the past 30.
“I worked six years, took six off and then came back 18 years ago,” she said Friday afternoon, while munching on a meal of green beans, cubed potatoes and a small slab of beef.
“I really like working here, and I think it likes me,” she said. “I feel better working,” a statement of some import given that she suffers medication-controlled rheumatoid arthritis.
Son Kerry, who lives in Newton, was scheduled to be in town today, “to take me somewhere to eat,” Troxel said.
“I don’t cook much at home anymore, except when I have family coming and then I like to cook up a big meal,” she said.
For her birthday?
“What I’d like more than anything is to have whoever stole my sunflower to bring it back,” Troxel said, without having to give the question any thought.
The sunflower, a five-foot-tall metal one with yellow blades for petals and a metal pole for a stem, was stolen from outside her home at 714 South St.
TROXEL was born in Tamora, Neb., on June 18, 1929, and lived several places — her father worked as a railroad section hand — until settling in this part of the country.
She was graduated from Yates Center High School in 1946. She later lived in LaHarpe before moving to Iola, where husband Floyd worked for the city.
She starts her days at the hospital at 10:30 a.m., working as late as 7 p.m., depending on the number of patients. In addition to monitoring the tray line, she does whatever needs done.
“I deliver meals to rooms, answer the phone and take out the trash,,” Troxel said.
Prior to her time at the hospital, Troxel developed a good working knowledge of kitchen chores in local restaurants and as a stay-at-home mom while raising five children. In addition to Kerry are Jim, who lives with her, Michael Pete and Cindy Buckman in Colony and Kelly in Texas.
She emphasizes “Pete” in her son’s name.
“That was my (deceased) husband’s nickname, although when he was around the city he liked to be called Floyd,” she said.
Troxel’s fellow workers were congratulatory Friday, and noted that she was well-loved.
“Did she tell you that she was Employee of the Year two years ago,” asked one.
“Yeah, I was,” Troxel admitted somewhat sheepishly, “but you don’t have to put that in the paper.”
Yes, we do.