Fellow employees, friends, family, and customers gathered at Ray's Food Place on Chetco Avenue June 17 to honor Judy Tygart who is retiring after 28 years of serving customers.
It was a happy occasion, but fellow employees and her faithful clients all expressed a bit of sadness, some even with tears in their eyes, because Tygart will no longer be there to make the day a bit brighter with her smiling assistance.
"You're gonna' be missed" was a constant refrain as celebrants accepted cake and apple juice being served by Tracy Saban and Ann Schreffler.
"It's been awesome," Tygart said about her many years working for CandK Markets. "I'm gonna miss it, I'm sure. It took me two years to make the decision. I kept putting it off."
Doug Nidiffer, president of CandK Market Corp., said. "I don't know how we're gonna' stay open without her." He added, "We have a number of employees who have been with us for 28 or 30 years."
Tygart reminisced a bit, "I became acquainted with Ray Nidiffer when I was working for Sam Erb at AandW." She said that Ray Nidiffer, who, with his wife June, started the market chain in 1956, was a friend of Erb's and came in often.
She recounted, "He would say to Sam, 'I'm gonna' steal her away from you,' and Sam would say, 'Get on outta' here and leave my girl alone.' They were funny guys and good friends."
But she did fill out an application and in August 1983 she was hired by the Nidiffers.
"It was the luckiest day of my life," she said. "It became my family away from home, a big happy family. They were my favorite people, and I'm really going to miss them. The time has gone by way too fast."
According to fellow employees, Tygart was a lot of fun to work with over the years. Schreffler said, "I'll never forget those fan dances," and she laughed as she described Tygart dancing around the store with a feather duster.
Tygart said she especially appreciated the card presented to her by Brookings Mayor Larry Anderson. "It was handmade by his wife, Susan. It's beautiful and I've already framed it," she said.
Although Tygart said it is hard to leave the job she has loved over the years, she will still be in the store often, and she looks forward to spending more time with her husband Jim, and her 86-year-old mother, Gladys Thomas, who is with her now, as well as children and grandchildren. She said they have plans, including seeing Paul McCartney in San Francisco in July, plus camping and other family outings.