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Janie Combs
Posted On: Oct 16, 2009
After 33 Years, It’s Time to Kick Back
Janie Combs
lives the good
life in retirement

Editor’s Note:
I was in a restaurant working on this issue of Voice of Action when I heard someone congratulating a friend on her retirement. Soon everyone in the restaurant was cheering for UFCW 8 member Janie Combs, who had just hung up her apron after 33 years on the job. It was quite a moment, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to come over and congratulate her myself. Here is Janie’s story.
— Jacques Loveall
Jacques Loveall, President, with Janie Combs, Bel-Air retiree

At her recent retirement celebration, Janie Combs had a surprise visit from UFCW 8-Golden State President Jacques Loveall, right. Also pictured, from left, are Combs’ friend, Robert Forsyth, and her husband, Robert Combs.

    Janie Combs is grateful to God and to her Union for where she is in her life. Combs worked as a Senior Clerk at the Bel Air Market on Highway 49 in Auburn. She recently retired after 33 years with the company.
    “Without my Union negotiated benefits, my husband and I would not have had the kind of life we had,” Combs said. “If we didn’t have our pension plan, I would never have been able to retire.”
    Combs came to appreciate her medical benefits when her husband, Robert, was seriously injured in an auto accident several years ago.
    “He drove an oil tanker and was hit head-on by a drunk driver,” she said. “He is still on disability. He needed extensive medical care and physical therapy to recover from a broken neck and other severe injuries. Thanks to our Union negotiated heath benefits, it was all covered 100 percent.”

    Combs said her career began rather inauspiciously.
    “My first week on the job, I placed a heavy bag of groceries on top of a beautiful birthday cake I had just bagged,” she recalled. “I was terrified that it would be my last day on the job. But I learned quickly and I’ve had a great career.”
    Combs said she most appreciated her relationships with her coworkers and her customers.
‘Kind of a family’
    “You become kind of a family with the people you work with, and with all of the regulars you wait on,” Combs said. “I loved talking with them about family members and what was happening in their lives.
    “One of my regular customers enjoyed our interactions so much that she would always go to my register even if there were shorter lines at the others.”

    Combs and her husband have moved to a small cabin they own 24 miles outside of Georgetown.
    “We wanted to do it for the last five years,” she said. “Now that I’ve retired, we can finally live here.
    “It’s so beautiful and serene. You can cross-country ski right out the door. And the fishing is great.”
    Combs said she is spending most of her time in retirement working at her two favorite leisure activities: jewelry-making and cooking.
    “I make jewelry out of beads for friends and family and for anyone else who wants to buy my creations,” Combs said. “I now do all of my cooking on our wood stove. My favorite fried chicken recipe tastes better than ever.
    “We love our life in retirement. Working at a Union job helped make it all possible.”

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