Shirley Bay

While the majority of folks retire at 65, St. Clair resident Shirley Bay is still working at age 82.

Bay grew up on a farm near Highway K, between Sullivan and St. Clair. She is the oldest of 14 children.

One of Bay’s responsibilities growing up was doing the family’s laundry. She remembered staying home from school when she was 12 completing all the laundry.

“I had to stay home every Monday and every Friday and do all the laundry and hang it on the clothes line outside,” Bay said.

She graduated from Sullivan High School in 1953 and a year later started working at Deb Shoe factory in St. Clair. Bay said she worked in the factory’s assembly line for 16 years.

After the shoe factory, Bay assembled electric motors for Von Weise Gear for 32 years.

“My favorite thing to do was bake a cake and bring it for everyone’s birthday,” Bay said.

Currently, Bay has been a biscuit maker at the Hardee’s in Union for 12 years. She works from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. four days a week. This will be her last job, she said.

“I want to quit, and they won’t let me,” Bay joked.

Her job at Hardee’s is quite different from her previous factory career.

“When you’re in assembly line work, you don’t have a minute,” she said, as opposed to her Hardee’s job, which allows her occasional down time.

Over the summer, Bay did take time off to watch the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

“It was wonderful,” Bay said of the solar eclipse. “That one was something that everybody should’ve seen.”

When Bay is not working, she enjoys watching Cardinal baseball games and goes to First Baptist Church.

Bay has one son, Johnnie, who is a firefighter in Kirkwood. He and his wife Cindy have two children, Shelby and Jake.

She is also close with her niece Jamie Keen and nephew Adam Rice who she considers her grandchildren.

Area residents may remember Bay’s father, Vester, who owned his own excavating company, and volunteered his time around the community.

“Everybody knew my dad, he was a big construction worker,” Bay said.

The Missourian wrote a feature about her father in July 1998 right before he passed away. Bay told the story of how he was able to have his photo taken with his horse for the story.

“His oxygen line stretched as far as the front porch, so they brought his horse up on the front porch and took a picture of him and his horse on the front porch,” she said.