MEDFORD - Just like the constant rotation of her conveyor belt cycling around and around, you can count on seeing Arlene Brusten's smiling face making sure everything that gets scanned, gets rung up properly and in a bag. (Your choice of paper or plastic, of course.)
"Today's my day to work, so here we go," Brusten said in front of her cash register on Wednesday morning.
Brusten's no stranger to saying that phrase. She's showed up to work at the Medford Cooperative County Market for the last 60 years. In January, the co-op celebrated her start date from 1958.
"I don't think i'm unique, no, I'm just happy to be here," Brusten said. "Just to be with people, the friendliness of customers."
Brutsen now works part-time two days each week, but not much can stop the humble 78-year-old, not even open heart surgery in 2002.
"Ever since that she just kept on working, she just don't want to quit," Arlene's husband Arden said after coming to visit on Valentine's Day with their son, Brian.
That's an important trait co-op general manager Chip Courtney noticed when he started with Brusten 29 years ago. Courtney believes Brusten is the longest-serving employee in the co-op's 107-year history.
"She's like family to generations of employees who have had the opportunity to work at Medford Coperative," Courtney said.
Family, indeed, seems to keep this place going. Brothers Phil (age 64 on Thursday) and Wayne Troiber (age 59) have worked in the co-op feed mill for 45 and 38 years respectively.
"I know Wayne's... which [order] he's going to start on just without even talking," Phil Troiber said. "We already have a mental thing going on."
The brothers aunt worked for the co-op for 48 years. They're now serving some people who are great grandchildren of their first customers.
"It's got to be fun. If it's not fun, then you're not here no more," Phil said.
Phil and Wayne want to keep working for the Medford Cooperative for a while. They'll need to if they want to catch Arlene, who plans to stay with this family as long as her own allows it.
"She's a good personal friend and she's set a pretty high standard for the rest of us," Courtney said. "It says a lot about the Medford Cooperative and about our community as well. It's a great place to work and a great place to live."
Brutsen and her husband have talked about her retirement, but she plans to keep on working at least a few more years. Her secret to longevity? Brutsen credits her family and eating nutritious foods.
Story By: Lane Kimble