Alice Pirnie isn’t old enough to just be the mother of fellow employees at her McDonald’s.
She could be their great-grandmother.
The 90-year-old last fall marked a milestone at the McDonald’s in Broken Bow, Nebraska, hitting 25 years of service.
Pirnie takes orders at the counter, serves as a greeter and is considered by some the “Mother of McDonald’s” because of her caring nature.
Walk in the door and she greets you by name and asks about your kids and grandkids. She hands out stickers to children, coos over babies and is often the first to wish co-workers happy birthday.
And if you look like a stranger, she asks where you’re from and where you’re headed.
“She takes care of everybody,” said Deb Kennedy, executive director of the Broken Bow Chamber of Commerce. “She’s a bright light for people.”
Pirnie has worked at the McDonald’s since it opened in 1992.
Pirnie said she feels a special connection with the McDonald’s because of the land it sits on. She said her late husband and his brothers owned the property and sold it to the people who built the restaurant.
She said she’s always liked working at restaurants because she loves meeting people. At McDonald’s she’s met folks from a dozen countries and 49 states, which are just a few of the details she kept in her McDonald’s scrapbook.
Cory Hall, who owns the restaurant with his brother, said Pirnie makes people feel welcome.
“It’s like you’re coming into her home,” he said.
In her early years at the restaurant she’d get up at 4 a.m. to work the early morning shift, logging 30 hours a week.
Now she just works Tuesdays and Thursdays at lunchtime.
She was raised on a farm near Broken Bow. She married her husband, John, in 1953, and they had four daughters.
Pirnie taught in rural schools, and later she and her husband ran a nursing home in Broken Bow and she supervised the kitchen. For years she taught microwave cooking classes in her home and remains active in her church.
So why does she keep working at age 90?
Pirnie said she likes people and the job gives her plenty of chances to connect with them and practice her Christian faith.
“I want to reflect (God’s) love to them,” she said.
She also said the job keeps her mind sharp and her body strong. She still drives, but often just walks to work because she lives less than two blocks away.
But she hasn’t been able to work lately. There was a fire at the restaurant last month so the front counter has been closed, although the drive-thru remains open.
The counter is scheduled to reopen Thursday and Pirnie she can’t wait to get back to get back at it.