Now that's dedicated service: Mary Lloyd is an inspiration

  • Published
  • By Daniel Becker
  • Manager of the Vandenberg Lodge
Mrs. Mary Lloyd turned 85 years old not long ago on 1 Mar 2011. While this is quite an accomplishment in itself, there is much more to the story. Mary has been, and continues to be, a housekeeper at the Vandenberg Lodge. This July, she will have worked at the Vandenberg Lodge for more than 45 years! She does a terrific job, always with a smile, and in a career that many would consider very hard work. Why does she do it? According to Mary, it is because she loves the job and the people she works with; and she loves the interaction with the guests who stay here too.

Mary was born in Alabama in 1926 and she met her husband at Maxwell Field in 1946 when he was stationed there with the Army Air Forces. They were married in New York in 1949 after he got out of the military. Later, he rejoined because "he missed the service" and stayed with the Air Force until his retirement after 20 years of service. They settled in the local area when her husband retired. Mary also has two sons, also of retirement age. Her oldest son is still working too, as a Minister in Michigan. She said she has 4 grandchildren and many great grandchildren too. One of her grandsons is 22 and is in Junior College in Missouri. Sadly, Mary's husband passed away in 1976 at only 47 years old. She never did re-marry after that. According to Mary, "I had a gentleman friend at one time, and we would have married, but he died too."

Mary has seen a lot of changes during her 45 years of service at Vandenberg AFB. She said she started for $1.25 an hour back in 1966 at the young age of 40. She told stories about when the lodging rooms all had bare floors. "There were no carpets in any rooms back then," Mary said. "Every housekeeper also had a janitor assigned to the building so that they could buff the floors in the rooms. Then, after they were finished buffing the floors, the housekeepers would dust mop the floors." She talked about how the Temporary Living Facilities (TLFs) for families didn't have kitchens. "The rooms just had beds and a refrigerator, no cooking facilities or pots and pans." She also said there used to be a lot more lodging rooms than now. She talked about how busy it was when Guardian Challenge competitions came to Vandenberg AFB every year. She said "There must have been over 700 people...and they were sleeping everywhere; on cots, in the beds, and even on the floors. Those guys really partied and the housekeepers had to work...and I mean work!" She has seen many of the buildings from those days torn down and a few new ones built.

Mary has received many awards during her tenure at Vandenberg lodge including Employee of the Month, Employee of the Quarter and Employee of the Year. She was also selected as an outstanding performer award for her tireless dedication and support given to the 2007 Lemay Evaluation Team.

When asked about her hobbies, she replied "Right now I spend most of my time resting...'cause I'm old now." But she also admitted to being a big sports fan! She likes the Lakers and the Rams and the Dodgers. She said "I used to watch the Dodgers and even went to a game when they were the Brooklyn Dodgers. Later, I got to go to another game after they moved to LA." She also likes to watch game shows and sometimes movies. "The Doris Day and Lucille Ball movies were nice, but now I don't bother watching movies from today." And Mary likes to go to church on Sunday too.

She was offered a Lead Housekeeper position many years ago, but declined due to injuries. She talked about how she hurt her knee while cleaning curtains, and that she can no longer climb all the stairs, a requirement for a lead. She considered retiring when she turned 60, but Mr. Henry Infante, who has also worked at the Vandenberg Lodge for more than 43 years, convinced her to stay. And she is glad that he did.

Mary is assigned to building 13007, our small Temporary Living Facility for families new to the base. It is all ground level so she doesn't have to climb any stairs. She said, "It gets very busy here during the summer in the TLF because families are moving when the kids are not in school."

She also talked about another difficult time in her life...when asked why she hadn't retired. "I thought about retiring, but back when I survived breast cancer, I had to stay home for almost a year. I got so bored...I didn't know what to do with myself. I stayed with my kids and they took care of me during the cancer. After the surgery they didn't want me to do anything. They didn't even want me to drive. Eventually I convinced them to let me move back home...and to go back to work." So, Mary came to work again four days a week. Now she has cut the workweek down to 3 days a week, but she is always ready to come in if she is called when she is needed. Mary said "I try to be dedicated to my job." Yes Mary, I agree, 45 years is true dedication! When you see Mary, please thank her, for she truly embodies selfless service. Her years of dedication are an inspiration and represent great support to the Vandenberg Lodge and to all the men and women of all the military services who have stayed here over the years. Mary, we salute you!