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Mary Jo Nolen — our longest serving colleague, 62 years and counting!

August 12, 2021

Mary Jo Nolen smiling outdoors

Although she’s nearly 81, Mary Jo Nolen isn’t about to sit in a rocking chair and reminisce about the good ole days. She’s still creating them. As of August 19, 2021, this Heart At Work® hero has the distinction of being the longest tenured employee at CVS Health — 62 years.

“I don’t have any plans to retire. I tried that once and they wouldn’t let me go. So, I just cut my hours down to part time,” says the life-long pharmacy technician at store #6767 in Freeport, Texas.

“It’s true. We can’t let her go. Our patients, customers and her co-workers just love her,” offers pharmacy manager Rosemary Kavishe. “She’s the most hardworking person I know. In my 12 years working with Mary Jo, she’s only called in sick twice.”

“Well, I did take one month off for knee surgery,” quips Mary Jo, adding that the “old timey” dancing she did for decades with the Bootleg Cloggers finally caught up to her at age 72.

Whether it’s clog dancing or being a proud mother and grandmother (her husband Bennice passed away in 1994), Mary Jo is impossible to pin down.

Mary Nolen, a long-time CVS Pharmacy employee wears a mask while assisting a customer

Mary Jo knows all her customers by name. Michelle Gammill recently stopped by.

“Other than work, I volunteer at church and I’m active in The Order of the Eastern Star,” she says. “I play dominoes every week and bunco every month and I’ve been sewing some pretty nice quilts lately.”

It’s all about the customers

Many things have changed since the days when Mary Jo typed prescription labels on a manual typewriter. But, one thing that stays the same are her customers and how she treats them.

“You know, people drive 20 miles to come to our pharmacy to see her,” says Rosemary. “She’s friendly to everyone, knows all their names, even the ones who aren’t always nice.”

“We’re the only people some of our older customers might speak to the whole day long,” says Mary Jo. “It’s important to be good to them."

“It’s like being with family here,” shares Carol Haney, a retired elementary schoolteacher who is known to bring the pharmacy staff chocolate covered strawberries every Valentine’s Day. “Mary Jo saves me money, too. One of my prescriptions isn’t covered by insurance and she always finds coupons.”

Three masked employees celebrate Mary Jo, a long-term CVS Pharmacy employee, with balloons and a bundt cake.

Debbie Rivera, Rosemary Kavishe and Tiffany Robles celebrate with Mary Jo.

Throughout the years, Mary Jo has mentored dozens of new hires including pharmacy technician Tiffany Robles. “We call Mary Jo ‘mom.’” She knows so much about the pharmacy business and medication. Nobody dares to argue with her,” jokes Tiffany.

So, what work/life wisdom should we be gleaning from Mary Jo? “Take vitamins, exercise and stay busy. Get to work 10 minutes early and be ready to go. Read as much as you can to stay up on things. And always, always treat people with respect, like you want to be treated.”

Thank you, Mary Jo, you’ve stolen our hearts by reminding us that life is a truly great gift.

Editor’s note: Mary Jo originally worked at Young’s Prescription House and Eckerd drugstore/J.C. Penney which was purchased by CVS Health.

Heart At Work® recognizes CVS Health heroes across the country who bring their hearts to every moment of our customers’ health. Read their stories, watch their videos and celebrate our CVS Health Heart At Work heroes along with us.

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