By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Lenore Olson, Randall, is turning 90 years old Friday, March 14. She will celebrate with friends and family that day at her place of work, Bermel’s Shoes in Randall.
Yes, Olson is still working at 90 years old.
“I plan on continuing to work as long as I can, as long as Bermel’s will have me,” she said. “My body will tell me when it has had enough.”
Olson has not worked at Bermel’s Shoes her entire career. Before 1971, she worked at Gosch’s Store in Randall.
“The owner, Henry Gosch, had grandchildren who came to work in the store during the summer and I would be laid off,” she said. “When I was leaving the store for the summer, I saw Eva Bermel who said the shoe store was getting busy and she needed help. I told her I needed a job and a week later I was working at Bermel’s.”
Olson was born in Randall to Silas and Anna Worlie in a small farm home south of town. Silas was a patrol driver for the Morrison County Highway Department and Anna taught school in Randall.
Except for three years during the Depression when her parents rented a farm in Lake Crystal, she has continued to live in Randall.
When asked why she didn’t retire at 65, like most people, Olson asked the question, “Why would I?”
“I like the job, I enjoy the people. We have so much fun selling shoes. When my husband, Rodger, became disabled, Bermel’s was flexible with my hours. I could be home when needed,” she said.
Olson said she would have liked to travel, but Rodger was unable to, so she stayed home. When he died in 1993, she didn’t want to travel alone.
“I did go to Texas with family and flew for the first time,” she said. But that has been her traveling experiences.
“The job has helped me keep my mind off losing Rodger and being alone,” she said. “Sometimes I still get lonely.”
But, Bermel’s Shoes keeps her busy. She works three days one week, then two the next.
A coworker, Jill Feia, said, “Lenore can run circles around the rest of us.”
Olson’s main job at Bermel’s is selling shoes. But her fun comes with the interaction with the customers.
“I like to tease them along while getting my job done,” she said. And that job is ensuring customers get the shoes they want and that they fit properly.
Olson said the best thing about working at Bermel’s is the friendship she has with her caring coworkers.
“And that I have a boss (Tim Koenig) who allows us to try new things,” she said.
Olson was hard pressed to find anything she didn’t like about her long-time job at Bermel’s.
“I think it’s the few crabby customers that come through the door,” she said. “But, they are not in the store for long.”
Olson attributes her work ethic as coming from her parents.
“I was the oldest of the children and had to help,” she said. “That’s the way it was during the Depression. Everyone had to dig in and help.”
Olson has three sons and two daughters and all are living in Minnesota. She has eight grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
“Life is great. The Lord has given me many years and I’ve enjoyed them all, the good and the sad ones,” she said.
Olson would like her friends and customers to come to her birthday party which will be held Friday, March 14, at Bermel’s Shoes in Randall. Cake and coffee will be served from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.