Forget waking at 1 a.m.
Reatha Davis has a new routine these days. The recently retired Owensboro woman now sleeps as late as 4 or 5 a.m.
On Oct. 2, Reatha retired from Specialty Food Group — for the second time.
She was 65 the first time she retired from Owensboro’s meat-packing company.
Less than a year later, someone from SFG’s human resources department called and asked Reatha to come back on a part-time basis. She did.
After two or three years of part-time work, Reatha accepted a full-time position at the plant.
In anticipation of her 78th birthday earlier this year, Reatha took stock of her life and the job she loved.
“I decided I didn’t want to work until I was 80,” she said.
With tears in her eyes, Reatha announced her retirement date.
She left after 52 years of service — a tenure nearly unheard of these days.
Reatha enjoys retirement, but still gets emotional about leaving SFG.
“Sometimes, I would work 11 or 12 hours, and I enjoyed it. I didn’t mind it at all,” Reatha said.
Her husband of 60 years, Randall Davis, went to work for Field Packing Co. — now SFG — in March 1961.
A few years later, he asked if his wife could apply for a job there.
Reatha, a homemaker at the time, joined her husband at the plant in 1968. She started out working in the bacon department.
After that department closed, Reatha was transferred to “the cage,” an area of the plant where employees go for hairnets, gloves, boots and jackets. She worked in the ham department’s cage until her retirement.
Randall retired after 39 years at SFG. (He retired only once.)
Together, the couple worked a total of 91 years for the company.
The two met at a cousin’s birthday party.
“She was only 13 then,” Randall said.
He fell in love right away.
“She was pretty,” he said.
They remained sweethearts until they married. She was 17, and he was two years older.
The Davises will celebrate 61 years of marriage on Nov. 25.
In retirement, Reatha plans to garden and tend flowerbeds, take her time preparing for the holiday season and continue serving at Harvest Baptist Church. Working at the church is Reatha’s “pleasure and my joy.”
Looking back, she is proud of her tenure at SFG.
For starters, she never arrived late for work.
“And, in 52 years, I can count on my fingers and toes the number of days I missed,” Reatha said. “I took my job very serious.”
Reatha was 26 years old when she started working at SFG. She never dreamed she’d remain there until she turned 78.
She made a lot of friends through the years and learned a lot of life lessons.
However, her two daughters and grandchildren kept telling her it was time to relax and enjoy life.
In the end, Reatha listened and obeyed.
“I’m not on a clock anymore,” she said. “I don’t have to worry about anything.”
Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, firstname.lastname@example.org