Tim Underwood, right, director of food services at Phoebe North, watches as Virginia Brown cuts the cake at her retirement party. Brown, who had been a hostess at the hospital, began working there when it opened as Palmyra Park Hospital in 1971.
ALBANY -- One of the original employees at an Albany hospital has decided to move on.
Virginia Brown, who has served as a hostess for the food services department at the former Palmyra Medical Center, now known as Phoebe North, has retired after 41 years.
Until her departure last week, she was one of two original employees still working at the hospital, officials say.
A retirement party was held for her Thursday afternoon. There, Brown, 65, found it hard to hold back tears as she exchanged hugs with her co-workers -- who in turn gave her a few gifts.
"It's relieving because I'll be home with my grandbabies, but I'll miss helping people," the grandmother of two said.
In a previous interview with The Albany Herald, Brown said that when she was looking for a job four decades ago, a friend directed her to the hospital. The food services manager at the time, Ralph Sproul, asked her what she wanted to do -- at which time she was willing to do anything.
She went from washing chairs in the dining room, to making salads and desserts, to working the line, to working in the dishroom. After rebounding from a stroke, she came back as a hostess.
Brown is known as a person who performs her duties with enthusiasm, and for having a profound impact through her interactions with patients.
At her retirement party, she said she will miss "the feeling that I have done something that day to help someone without knowing who they were. I'll also miss my co-workers, and working with foods.
"It's been fun here and I've enjoyed it."
When asked what her plans were for retirement, Brown said she would rest for a little while, catch up on some fishing and some shopping, and attend a niece's high school graduation in Texas.
Among those to wish Brown well on Thursday was Lula Hutchinson, a retired director of food services, environmental services and linen for the hospital.
"She always had a smile, she was never sad or unhappy," Hutchinson said. "She has always just been dedicated, and has been a joy to work with."
The hospital opened on Feb. 1, 1971, roughly two years after ground had been broken on the facility. Originally it was known as Palmyra Park Hospital.
When the hospital, then still Palmyra Medical Center, celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, Brown was recognized for her service.