LITTLE CANADA, Minn. (WCCO) — A woman who has been working at a McDonald’s restaurant in Little Canada since Gerald Ford was in office is calling it quits, and even Ronald McDonald himself showed up to see her off into retirement.
Every day, people come to the fast food stop hoping to see Deloris “Dee” Nelson. She’s been working at the McDonald’s there since 1974.
Nelson, now 75 years old, got the job that year after driving down Rice Street and seeing that a new McDonald’s was being built and needed employees. She pulled in and the rest, as they say, was history.
Quite a bit has changed in the drive-thru business since she started.
“You took the the order, you cashiered, you went and got the food, the drinks, the whole thing,” she remembered. “Now it takes about four (employees).”
There were hugs and reunions galore as Nelson bid farewell to her McCareer. There were even gifts, including rubber ducks from a 13-year-old with autism who, over time, Nelson has grown to know well.
Many of her customers say they’ve been heartened by her reliable presence at the drive-thru window.
“This guy walked over and said ‘You used to work at McDonalds.’ And I said, ‘Yes, I’m still there,’” she said, fighting tears. “He was surprised and said, ‘You know, I wanted my mom to take me through the drive-thru on our way to school because it made my day.’”
Some say the Little Canada restaurant and the drive-thru window will never been the same without her.
“She’s a very thoughtful and caring person,” said one. “She’s a people person.”
In her retirement, Nelson would like to work around the home and visit family across the country. She’s also hoping to be a spokesperson for Donate Life, to encourage people to be organ donors.
“A smile can start a conversation without saying a word, and I really believe that,” she said.