“I loved everybody there, and I loved to go to work every day,” Melba Mebane told KLTV.
In a world where career paths often take unexpected turns and transitions, it's rare to find someone who dedicates nearly three-quarters of a century to a single company.
Today, we celebrate the extraordinary story of Melba Mebane, a vibrant and dedicated woman from Tyler, Texas, who recently bid farewell to her beloved workplace, Dillard’s, after an astonishing 74 years of service.
A Passion for Fragrance
Melba's journey at Dillard's began in 1949 when she joined Mayer & Schmidt, which later transformed into the renowned department store we know today. At the tender age of 17, she embarked on her career as an elevator operator, and little did she know that this would be the beginning of a lifelong adventure.
As the years passed, Melba found her true calling within the world of cosmetics, particularly in the fragrance department. Her genuine love for scents and her desire to help others find their perfect match made her a beloved figure among customers.
Creating Lasting Connections
Beyond her official duties, Melba's warm personality and genuine care for others allowed her to forge deep connections with both customers and colleagues. She delighted in providing samples to her customers, always seeking to make them feel special and valued.
Her unique catchphrase, asking women if they were "trying to get a man or keep a man," became a memorable part of her interactions, and it exemplified her ability to connect on a personal level.
Family and Legacy
Melba's impact extended beyond the fragrance counter.
During her time at Dillard's, she became an honorary member of the Dillard family, taking care of their children whenever the founder, William Dillard, visited Tyler. Drue Dillard Matheny, now the company's vice president, has known Melba for an impressive 65 years and describes her as one of the happiest people she has ever met.
Melba's vibrant spirit and exceptional people skills have left an indelible mark on those she encountered throughout her career.
Retirement Celebration and Beyond
As Melba's retirement celebration approached, it became a bittersweet moment for both her and her colleagues. Recognizing her extraordinary dedication, she received a certificate of excellence, rightfully declaring her the department store's longest-serving employee.
However, after just a few weeks of retirement, Melba confessed to missing her work "terribly." The social interactions and the opportunity to see her loyal customers had become an integral part of her life.
Fortunately, Melba is not alone in this new phase of her life. Her second family at Dillard's remains a steadfast support system, visiting her regularly and taking her out. Their presence acts as a lifeline, ensuring she stays connected and engaged with the world she held dear for so many years.
Melba Mebane's exceptional 74-year career at Dillard's is a testament to her unwavering dedication, infectious personality, and genuine love for her work. Her story serves as an inspiration, reminding us of the profound impact we can have when we approach our careers with passion and a sincere desire to make a difference in the lives of others.
As Melba embraces this new chapter in her life, her legacy will continue to shine bright within the halls of Dillard's, forever reminding us of the power of connection, warmth, and a true love for what we do.
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