In Dec. 23 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Editor
Since 1955, the folks at Emerson Manufacturing Company have relied on secretary Audrey Eastham's hard work, integrity and loyalty as the company expanded and grew into what it is today.
Last week, Eastham, now 84, said goodbye to the job that has defined her life and left her legacy. During her more than six decades at Emerson's she marked and sanded wood as well as worked nights before taking over secretarial duties in the early 1960s.
Working at the same job for nearly 57 years, and even a few years prior under previous owners, Eastham never relied on technological advances in her line of work. Early on she taught herself how to use it and has used the same manual typewriter all these years. She even did the company ledger books and invoices by hand, never having a computer in the office.
"In a way it has gone by fast," she said of her time with the company. "Looking back it doesn't seem like a long time."
Audrey, who is on her 5th generation of Emersons, said she knew it was her time to step aside.
"When you get older, you're not as alert as you once were and I told them I was afraid I would make a mistake and cost them all something. I would rather just let them get somebody younger in here," she said. Making an error for Audrey seems unlikely though, as she would double and triple check figures if she was even a penny off, the Emerson family said.
"There's not just one memory that stands out," she said of her good times working for the Emersons. "They've always been good to me and I have appreciated them … I couldn't ask for anything any better."
Audrey said she had made many lifelong friendships over the years and have stayed in contact with those that have come and gone as she has remained in her position.
With her upcoming free time, Audrey said she was looking forward to taking it easy for a while, a well-deserved break. She also said she may slip in some crocheting from time to time.
Estus Emerson, one of the brothers who formerly owned the company, said it would be highly unlikely anyone could ever fill Audrey's shoes the way she was able to. His brother, J.S., the other former co-owner, said Audrey's dedication and hard work is one reason why the company is the oldest, continuously run business in Russell Springs, according to the family.
Mary Susan Judd, a member of the Emerson family, said she would bet there wasn't a more honest person on the planet than Audrey Eastham.
"I bet she has never even taken a paper clip home," Judd said. "We never even considered that she wasn't honest because she has always proved to be," Estus added.
Another member of the Emerson family, Denise Luttrell, said one could have put a million dollars in front of her in 1955 and counted it today and have every cent accounted for.
"She'd rather give you ten dollars than take a penny from you," Estus said. Both Estsus and J.S. began after Audrey started at the company and both ended up retiring before her, a sign of the longevity of Audrey's long tenure there.
Even after a triple bypass open heart surgery in 2005, Audrey, who still drives, came back to work as soon as she could.
Estus said Audrey always gave 110 percent to her job and he never heard a complaint from her or about her the entire time she worked with them.
"(The Emersons) just all seem like family," Audrey said. "I don't think they make them like her anymore," Estus added. "She is loyal … you could count on your fingers the number of days she has missed."
Attending Audrey's retirement party last week were J.S. Emerson, Estus Emerson, Bodie Emerson, Charles Emerson, Denise Luttrell, Mary Susan Judd, Bodie J. Emerson and Camri Stephens, all of the Emerson family along with Shirley Lawson, her niece, Nenna Lawson and her two sons Brannon and Nathan Lawson, who are her great-great nephews and friends Kenny Luttrell, Brian Stephens and Steve Robertson.