81-year-old Austinite Ophie Garcia has been working full-time at H-E-B for over 50 years. The legendary Texas grocery store -- one of the most beloved grocery chains in the United States -- is known across the state for its friendly atmosphere and top notch customer service and no one epitomizes that more than Ophie.
Originally from a migrant community in South Texas, Ophie Garcia began her working life after her father passed away when she was 12. A drug store owner told the eighth-grade student she was too young to be a migrant worker picking cotton and tomatoes, however, and so Ophie started working there making 35 cents an hour selling sandwiches. Fifteen years after she began her working career the now 27-year-old mother was beyond excited to take a pay raise to a whopping 75 cents an hour at H-E-B a few days before 1965.
ICYMI: Check out this heart-warming story from the @statesman, featuring Ophie, the company's longest-serving Partner with 54 years of service at @HEB. https://t.co/SfiFOwlBQs pic.twitter.com/IS1qB8FqIu
— H-E-B Newsroom (@HEBNewsroom) October 15, 2018
On December 29th, 1964, just a few days before New Year's Day, she walked into the Harlingen H-E-B ready to sell tobacco. The rest, as they say, is history.
Throughout her years of service, Ophie has worked in several different departments at H-E-B, learning about all the general merchandise the store has to offer. Ultimately she became a member of the cosmetics department. These days she recommends hair and skin care products, eye shadow and hair dying advice at H-E-B in Austin. She also translates from Spanish to English for the pharmacy and teaches the community about free healthcare services offered at H-E-B.
Read More: 10 Things You Didn't Know About H-E-B
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Ophie was set on retiring a few years ago after H-E-B threw her a party for all her years of service. But like the store she works for, Ophie has had a passion for helping customers since her first day on the job, and she wasn't ready to quit. Unsure of what to do, Ophie called none other than Charles Butt, H-E-B president and the grandson of H-E-B founder Florence Butt, and asked him what to do. His answer was simple. He told her to do what made her happy.
For Ophie, that was working at HEB, and the beloved southern grocery chain is glad they could keep such an amazing southern woman around. Customers love Ophie, and so does Charles Butt. At 80 years old and still working full time for HEB himself, he says Ophie is "one of the most special people."