Ophie Garcia, 84, worked at H-E-B for 56 years.
The city of Austin and H-E-B joined forces to honor a treasured frontline worker for her lifetime of commitment to her community last week.
Ofelia Garcia, better known as "Ophie," holds the record as the longest-running retail employee in the history of the grocery chain. The 84-year-old worked at H-E-B for 56 years, most of them at the original Oak Hill location. Her tenure with the company is second to only CEO Charles Butt, whose family founded the beloved chain.
"I started working for them in 1965. I didn't go to school, this was my school, HEB University," she joked to Fox 7 Austin. "I love my customers. I have a passion for them and that's why I've stayed so long."
On December 22, Austin District 8 City Council Member Paige Ellis presented Garcia and her family with a proclamation declaring December 22, 2021 "Ofelia Garcia Day" in Austin.
"We can never do enough to honor the sustaining contributions of our frontline retail employees," Council Member Ellis said in a statement. "The quality of life in our community would not be as strong and vibrant without heroes like Ophie Garcia and her colleagues."
Garcia, who retired in August, has four children, 12 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She's known for her kindness and dependability, rarely calling in sick throughout her career and insisting on working during weather emergencies, as well as the current pandemic. Friends and family say she never met a stranger in her life.
"Ophie has a heart for people and offers encouragement to everyone she meets," Butt told Austin360. "Whether she's in the store or out serving her community, Ophie is always going above and beyond to provide world-class customer service. I'm proud to be on her team."
Congratulations Ophie, we could all learn something from you.