By Emily Younker
JOPLIN, Mo. —
When LaDean Reed returned to work from her lunch break Thursday, she was met with a sight she wasn’t expecting: cake, punch, flowers, and a lobby full of her family, co-workers and reporters.
“I did not think this would happen today,” she said.
Reed was surprised with a reception at the Freeman Business Center, 32nd Street and McClelland Boulevard, to honor her 55 years of employment with the health system. She is the first employee to reach such a milestone with Freeman Health System, said Paula Baker, president and chief executive officer.
“Can you believe 55 years of service for LaDean Reed — isn’t that amazing?” she told the crowd of Reed’s co-workers who gathered for the surprise reception. “We are so proud you (Reed) have stuck with us through the good times and the bad.”
Reed’s first day of work was March 21, 1958, at what eventually would become Freeman Hospital in Neosho. At the time, she signed on for six months only, she said, and she ended up staying for five and a half decades.
“It just got better and better,” she said. “There’s always been an initiative to stay. I like all aspects of my job, but I think what I appreciate is the many things Freeman gives back to its employees.”
Since her first day, Reed has filled various roles with Freeman. She has spent most of her years in the accounting and business departments, moving in 2000 to the Freeman Business Center, where she is a receptionist and administrative secretary. She said she has seen a “constant changing” in the way business is conducted, moving from storing information on 3- by 5-inch notecards to a fully computerized system.
Reed’s supervisor, Barbara Joe, said she is a “dynamic” employee.
“She keeps everybody laughing; there’s never a dull moment when she’s around,” she said. “She keeps us all on task here.”
Joe said Reed hates to miss work, and if she is absent, she usually asks to make up the shift.
“I don’t know when was the last time she took off more than two days in a row,” she said.
Yvonne Meyer, a co-worker for nearly 20 years, said Reed has an enviable work ethic.
“She’s dedicated, she goes above and beyond, and everyone respects her,” she said.
While information issued by Freeman did not cite Reed’s age, the veteran of 55 years on the job doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
“I have no plans to retire at this time,” she said.
REP. BILL REIBOLDT, of Neosho, on Thursday presented LaDean Reed with a resolution from the state House of Representatives recognizing her 55 years of employment with Freeman Health System.