A firecracker, a spitfire — sharp as a tack and a voice of wisdom, that’s how Greenwood’s Chick-fil-A employees describe 85-year-old Odell Murdock.
“She’s literally like everybody’s grandmother,” said Kristen McGuire. “She’s a sweet, old little lady.”
For 24 years, Murdock has been saying “My pleasure” to customers of Chick-fil-A. She worked at the location that was inside Greenwood Mall, as well as the current older location on the bypass. Before that, she worked for 40 years, retiring from KEMET Electronics.
“I never would have retired, but my back started hurting,” Murdock said. “But it makes you feel young, to work with a bunch of kids.”
Her coworkers gathered Thursday at the Chick-fil-A outside of the mall to celebrate her retirement. They’d printed out pictures of Murdock working in the kitchen and smiling alongside work friends. Staff signed a biscuit roller and cutter to give as a gift, and left loving messages in a card for her.
They also cut a cake for Murdock, who will turn 86 on Thursday.
Unmissable was that nearly all of her coworkers were generations younger than her.
“She’s really a voice of wisdom around here,” said Adam Fisher. “She’s got to have her coffee and a Coke in the morning, and get her grilled nuggets to go.”
The staff got a bouquet of 24 roses for Murdock, one for each year with the restaurant chain. She spent more time working for the local Chick-fil-A than current franchise owner Brian Whitaker and his wife have spent owning it. Whitaker has served as franchise owner for 16 years.
“We were excited to get to know her coming in,” Whitaker said. “We want Chick-fil-A to feel like a family, and Odell was always the center of the family.”
She never lets off the gas, he said, and showed a work ethic that’s a rare breed. At her age, Whitaker said it was remarkable to see her enthusiasm to work with others.
She’s even had the chance to work alongside family. Her granddaughters, McKensi and Abby, have also worked for Chick-fil-A, with Abby still working there. It was a unique experience, being able to share work stories and experiences with their grandmother.
“She set the bar really, really high,” McKensi said of her grandmother. “We’d go to her house and actually talk about work. She always wanted to know about this location, since she worked mostly at the other one.”
Whitaker, welling with emotion, thanked Murdock for her years of dedicated work, and said she helped build a foundation that the rest of the team stands on. In unison, many of the people who came showed their appreciation, saying “We love you, Ms. Odell.”
“I love everybody,” Murdock said to her friends. “I have enjoyed working with you so much. You’ve been troupers to me.”