Walker Baptist employee retires after 45 years on the job

By LEA RIZZO, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 8/12/17

Walker Baptist Medical Center now has one less employee remaining from the People’s Hospital days, following the recent retirement of Ruby Harris McCollum.

McCollum, a Jasper resident and Parrish native, was one of the hospital’s few …

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Walker Baptist employee retires after 45 years on the job

Posted

Walker Baptist Medical Center now has one less employee remaining from the People’s Hospital days, following the recent retirement of Ruby Harris McCollum.

McCollum, a Jasper resident and Parrish native, was one of the hospital’s few remaining employees who had also worked at People’s Hospital.

“I’ve been there longer than anyone in the dietary department,” she said. “I was the last one [from People’s] left in the kitchen.”

She started her very first job, and what would turn out to be the beginning of a 45-year career, at People’s in 1972.

She began working at People’s after her first husband told Dot King, a woman who worked at People’s, that his wife was looking for a job. From there, McCollum, then 20, filled out an application and King ended up hiring her without first receiving approval from the hospital administrator.

However, after the administrator met her, he told King he thought she had a done “a fine job” by hiring McCollum.

But there was one time where McCollum almost quit until being persuaded out of it by King.

“I was probably 21 and I got aggravated and wrote out a resignation letter and gave it to Mrs. King,” McCollum said. “She read it and tore it up. She said, ‘You’re not going anywhere but back to work.’”

While working there, McCollum remembers occasionally having to take her three sons — Charles, Anthony and Lovelle — to work with her and sitting them down in the lobby while she worked.

After People’s closed, McCollum moved over to Walker Baptist when it opened in the early 1980s.

“I helped open that hospital,” she said. And that would be where she spent the rest of her career.

McCollum worked in the dietary department, where she served as a lead over the kitchen line for around 32 years and as a cook for her last 10 years at Walker Baptist. “I worked there, altogether, under about five directors and about six administrations,” she recalls.

While working there, McCollum was named Employee of the Month at least three times and Employee of the Year twice.

She said she loved working with patients and referred to her fellow workers as her family.

“The workers at People’s Hospital were my first family and the group that’s [at Walker Baptist] now is my second family,” McCollum said. “We really enjoyed each other. We laughed, we helped each other, worked together and took care of each other.

“There’s not a department [at the hospital] that I didn’t like and didn’t get along with. I loved them all,” she added.

Speaking about her decision to retire, McCollum said, “It was time.”

She said that her sons had been wanting her to retire for a while and her husband, Robert, also needed her help now that business has picked up at their restaurant, Breakfast Time, near the Dollar General in downtown Jasper.

Although she misses her coworkers, there are definite perks to being retired.

“I get up when I get ready to and go to bed when I get ready. [Robert and I] can do a lot of things together now,” McCollum said. “We plan to travel some, later on.”

One of the first places she wants to go is Boston because there’s a lot of history there, which McCollum enjoys.

“We’ll just close the doors [at the restaurant] and open them again when we get back,” she said, with a laugh.

But she added that she enjoys working at Breakfast Time, as well, because it gives her the opportunity to meet and talk to a lot of different people and exchange recipes with them.

“God is good to me,” McCollum said. “I have my health and strength and was able to work 45 years to be able to retire.”