By Joan Janzen
Many people may not be able to recall the days when grocery stores looked different than they do today. There were people standing along side the cashiers, ready to pack your groceries, place them in a grocery cart and then push the cart to the customer’s car, even if the parking lot was packed with snow. The groceries would be loaded into the customer’s vehicle and the employee would return the empty cart back inside the store.
Though many don’t remember, Carol Burke, a long time employee at the Kindersley Co-op food store, remembers working at the Co-op during that time. But after forty-seven years of service, Carol retired on October 20th, 2020. In honour of the big day, her till was decorated and customers offered their personal greetings to her throughout the day.
“It will be forty-seven years to the day,” Carol said. “I started on October 23, 1972. I was going to retire in May, but then Covid was on, so I decided to stay put and help as much as I could.” As the summer months approached, “I thought I might as well wait until October. That way I’ll remember when I started and when I finished.”
Carol recalls many memorable events that took place during her years at the Co-op. “In 1976 the roof fell in, and we worked through that. Eleven months later we had a fire in 1977.” However those tragic events were followed by a far more positive memory which Carol shared, “I met David in June of 1977 and we got married in November of that year. That’s why I’m still here,” she chuckled.
During her years as head cashier at the Co-op, Carol enjoyed her interaction with the customers and employees. “In 1998 I probably trained 120 people,” she said. “There’s always new things to learn that you pass on to your employees. Before we moved into our new building, we were introduced to the new computers and scanning system. That was a big learning curve! You no longer had to price every can of soup.”
Carol also remembers the opening of the new Co-p building on February 14, 2002, and has fond memories of being a Legion member in the community for many years. She had always promised herself that she and David would provide finances for their kids’ secondary education, a promise they were able to keep.
“It is a great place to work, and I gained so many friendships in town. The people are awesome!” Carol noted, and added, “With this Covid thing, you have to get out there with people. It’s amazing how many people ask about David and I, and our family; we’re well known in the community,” she said.
Not only will Carol be leaving her position at the Co-op, but she and David plan to move to Melfort, Sask. after their house in Kindersley sells. “My son said we’ve got to move closer, because who’s going to take care of you when you get older. Although it’s good to have lots of friends in town, it’s more comfortable when you have a family member close by. But we’re going to darn well miss everybody!” Carol said.
That feeling is mutual, as the customers that come through the doors at the Kindersley Co-op will miss seeing Carol, and hearing her friendly greeting.
Lisa Klassen, Human Resources Manager at the Kindersley and District Co-op, observed that the type of dedication and service Carol committed to the Co-op isn’t often seen these days, and it’s rare for someone to start a career at a young age and stay with the same organization for 47 years. But that’s exactly what Carol Burke did.
Everyone at the Kindersley Co-op and in the community wish Carol all the best in the next exciting chapter of her life.
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