By Conner Hammett
AAFES News Service
Army & Air Force Exchange Service shoppers can look no further than the Fort Leonard Wood food court for the quintessential example of love, marriage and family serving family.
That example comes from Exchange associates Marianne and Gene Eberle.
Marianne, 71, who works in the food court’s warehouse, was recognized recently by managers for her 50 years with the Exchange. Gene, 73, who keeps the food court polished and clean, is working on his 53rd year with the Department of Defense’s oldest and largest retailer.
They were married in October 1969, about a year after they met in the Exchange cafeteria. Marianne worked as a cashier, and Gene regularly ate breakfast or lunch there.
“They truly exemplify our core value ‘Family Serving Family,’” said Christine Harlan, Fort Leonard Wood Exchange general manager. “They take their jobs very seriously because they know they are serving a special family: Soldiers, their spouses and children, as well as military retirees. That’s why neither of them wants to retire: Serving the troops means so much to them.”
The Exchange hired Marianne on Jan. 4, 1968, after she emigrated from Germany, despite knowing little English.
“I was single and was looking for a means to support myself,” she said. “I was given a chance to go to work at the Exchange, and as time went by, I mastered the communication obstacles and began to learn all positions in the cafeteria.”
Marianne moved up through the ranks to become a food operations clerk and learned accounting. She became a food activity foreman and then a mobile sales supervisor until her retirement in 2002. She took her bosses up on an offer to return as an intermittent food service worker and perform warehouse and clerical work for the food court.
“This was my chance to stay busy—and I’m still here 16 years later. The same goes for my husband,” she said.
Gene started his Exchange career in 1962 washing dishes in the Soldiers’ service club. He’s held various restaurant positions and later transferred to the main store’s sporting good counter. He worked in the Military Clothing Store as well.
His retirement in 1999 didn’t sit well with him, so he returned to work for the mobile food units and eventually found his way into his present position.
Retire? No way, Marianne vowed.
“He and I enjoy our jobs very much,” she said. “We remained with the Exchange for so many years because we feel the Exchange has been very good to us. There was always a job available to us and we never had to go without a paycheck. This is what we appreciate.”
“I stayed with the Exchange so long because I had a job that was always there for me,” he said. “Retirement is just not for me. I enjoy being around customers and co-workers, plus the troops depend on me.”