After 46 years, Oak Bluffs native Beverly Tucker is hanging up her Martha’s Vineyard Hospital kitchen apron for the last time. Hospital officials and her fellow employees honored the indefatigable Ms. Tucker at a retirement celebration in the newly refurbished hospital cafeteria on Wednesday, May 16.
Ms. Tucker recalled she was paid $58.63 a week when she began working in the hospital kitchen at the age of 21. It was 1966. “I was very happy with that,” she said. In 1971 she was making $2.05 an hour.
Ms. Tucker said she found purpose in her job and in work, an ethic she learned from her father. “It wasn’t about the money. It was about the hospital. I worked for the hospital. Things were cheap then. My dad taught me to work, work, work, and that’s what I’ve done.”
On Wednesday, there were snacks, a large chocolate cake, gifts and about 50 friends and co-workers on hand to wish her well. A woman of few words and seemingly a bit unused to all the attention, she chatted amiably with well-wishers.
Ms. Tucker got a good laugh from the crowd when Ken Chisholm, director of Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, asked if she had any favorite memories. “Not really,” she deadpanned. “They were all good, mostly.”
Ms. Tucker spent many years preparing the cold foods, but there is little that she has not done in the kitchen. In his comments, hospital director of food services Chris Porterfield praised her sense of service.
“She has always kept the patients and customers first,” he said. “She has always worked at getting things done the right way. She knows it all and she has been so helpful training others. She wouldn’t always like it because of the quick turnover, but she always did it. Forty-six years is pretty impressive. She is admirable. Thank you, Beverly.”
Ms. Tucker remembers running food to the patients’ rooms. “We used to have to deliver the trays and open the milk containers at the beds,” she said. “We always worked as a team.”
Ms. Tucker said she will “learn real quick” how to handle retirement. “I plan to lay on the beach and maybe paint the house.” With two daughters, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, she should have plenty to keep her busy.