Thursday, May 26, 2005

Dedicated cafeteria worker retires

Staff Writer

She was always on time and rarely missed a day of work, according to co-workers at the Byhalia High School cafeteria.

This week Vulna Smith, 76, gets a retirement party in her honor for 40 years of dedicated service to the school district and Byhalia’s children.

Smith started working for the Byhalia High School cafeteria in 1965. She has done all the jobs such an occupation includes, but cooking, making bread and desserts and serving are what she liked to do best.

Smith said she wants to rest a while, then visit her relatives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Perhaps later she will do something part-time.

Smith has served all her children and grandsons but she won’t be at school for the great-grandkids.

“I told my grandkids the other day, Grandma is not going to be able to serve you like I did the other kids when they were coming up.”

Smith said she is in good health as she moves into retirement. She’s worked 35 hours a week for 40 years with good people, she said.

She has plenty of hobbies to keep her entertained at home. Smith has always had a vegetable garden and she likes flower, too. She also likes to cook at home.

Second to cooking, Smith is proud of her family, her two children, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Smith is a member of Faith Baptist Church in Barton where she has kept the nursery.

She sees no great change in the children of 40 years ago and those she serves today.

Smith and her husband, the late Vadah Smith, a construction worker, came to Byhalia from Baton Rouge.

Her parents were Ingles and her father was a logger who pulled timber out with a wagon and oxen. Vadah was from Hendersonville, Tennessee and his mother was from Somerville.

They settled on Church Street in Byhalia.

Mary Ables, a co-worker and manager of the cafeteria since 1991, has worked with Smith since 1988 at the old Byhalia High School.

Dependability is Smith’s number one quality and it is something co-workers appreciate greatly, Ables said.

“You can depend on her to always be here on time no matter what,” Ables said. “I’ve enjoyed working with her and have learned a lot from her over the years.

Those qualities are to be admired in cafeteria work. Five employees serve 450 students breakfast and lunch at Byhalia High School. So it is important to be dedicated, Ables said.

Celestine Harden agreed.

“It’s been good. She is very dedicated to her job and she showed me a whole lot,” Harden said.

Co-workers Francis Ables and Yvonne Howard round out the cafeteria staff at Byhalia High.

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