83-year-old Maryland woman works 60 hours each week at two jobs

ELKTON, Md. (AP) — At 83, Harriet Rea might be a senior citizen, but retirement is certainly not on her radar screen.

Rea has worked for more than 50 years, of which, the last eight she’s worked two jobs.

Her spunk and longevity in the work place paid off when she was honored in Annapolis for being Cecil County government’s oldest employee.

The upbeat, petite Rea works from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Senior Services and Community Transit, where she serves as a receptionist and coordinator for home-delivered meals Monday through Friday.

Most weekdays she reports to her second job on for a 3 to 11 p.m. shift at Wal-Mart, where she works as a greeter.

“I just like to stay busy,” Rea said. “Then I don’t have any time to worry about problems.”

Rea was born and raised in Rising Sun. She graduated from Rising Sun High School in 1942. But, she has lived most of her adult life in Elkton. Her husband, Willard “Bonk,” died in 1997, but Rea has a large extended family, including one son, four grandchildren, 21 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren.

Senior Services and Community Transit Director Susan Twigg accompanied Rea to Annapolis May 12 for the Governor’s Leadership in Aging Awards.

Rea’s cheery disposition brings smiles to her colleagues in Senior Services.

“Everyone adores Harriet,” said Linda Tull, the agency’s community services supervisor. Tull said Rea is a source of information and inspiration for the entire staff. “One day last year, we needed a pick-me-up,” Tull said. “So, we decided to have a ‘Harriet Rea Day.’”

She said it worked like a charm.

Rea started at senior services back when it was called the Department of Aging. She volunteered with the Home Shopping Program after losing her job at RMR when the Elkton plant closed in 1989.

“I started work at RMR the second day it opened in 1956 and worked there until it closed,” she said.

Cecil County Department of Aging hired Rea as a part-time worker in 1991.

“I just love my job,” said Rea, who describes herself as a “people person.”

Tull sings her praises, too, saying if there’s a new task to learn, Harriet jumps in with both feet.

“She recently learned how to use our computer database of seniors who get meals delivered,” Tull said.

The database helps Rea locate seniors who might not be home when the meals are delivered.

“That way, she can keep tabs on them,” Tull said.

She also posed for “Miss July” in the 2008 calendar produced by Senior Services and she’s one of the first seniors on the dance floor each year for the “Seniors Prom.”

Tull says Rea has a very positive attitude, which makes everyone feel good.

“And, she has unending patience,” she added.

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