(ABC4 NEWS – SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH) She’s got an incredible smile, a lilting laugh and silver coifed hair. She also happens to like a good Ruben sandwich with extra sauerkraut. Oh, by the way, she also happens to 94 years old.
Dorothy Bale’s spirit and spunk is unrivaled for many people a lot younger than her. She told me; “I’m always out doing something in the yard as long as the weather is good.”
Dorothy continued; “May 3rd and it was 1924 when I was born. When I was a senior in high school World War 2 started.” She was raised in Colorado by a single mother. Like other women in the era, she worked in a military hospital in town. She then moved to Ogden, Utah to work in the Army Depot, back to Colorado and then back to Salt Lake City to work at the VA Hospital.
Along the way she met her husband, Dennis Bale, who trained to be a dentist. He had a dental practice in Utah for years and died at the age of 66. A couple years later, she decided that she wanted to stay busy and started working at an Arby’s restaurant a mile from her home.
With a glint in her eyes, Dorothy told me; “I’ve been here for 25 years. I have loved Arby’s. they have been good to me. And I’ve met thousands of people. “
To celebrate her silver anniversary, Paul Brown, the C.E.O. of Arby’s, gave Dorothy a replica of the famous Pharrell hat that looks a lot like the Arby’s logo. Since I’m a hat guy, it was fun to show Dorothy a picture of me wearing Pharrell’s original hat. Let’s just say that that it fit a lot better on Dorothy than me.
At 94 years old and still going strong, Dorothy is the oldest Arby’s employee in the entire country. It was fun to see that warmth and enthusiasm and she greeted customers and took their orders.
For all the jokes about seniors not being tech savvy, it is interested to note that she’s been at the Arby’s across the street from Olympus High School so long that the building has been remodeled twice and she’s on her 4th computer system.
I asked Dorothy how many customers she has helped. She said; “I usually take…right now I take about 200 orders during the week and I’m only working 3 lunch hours.” My math figures that to be about 10,000 meals a year or at least a quarter-of-a-million over her career. That’s some serious roast beef.
Dorothy doesn’t need the job. Why is she doing what she does? She quickly replies with a laugh; “Seeing all these wonderful people that come in to see me.”
What’s Dorothy’s advice for a long life? She keeps it simple; “I just take one day at a time. I don’t worry about what happened yesterday and I’m not going to worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow. Live today. I live one day at a time.”
These stories deserve to be told. These are Utah Caring Stories. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.