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Sentara Healthcare employee shows no signs of stopping after 60 years on job in Elizabeth City

Willie Mae Overton is an employee at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center. She started working at the hospital in 1961.

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. — Willie Mae Overton is 82 years old. She lived through Jim Crow Laws. She survived COVID-19.

Friday, Sentara Healthcare celebrated her as its longest-serving employee. Overton works at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center. She started working at the hospital in 1961.

Everyone who works at the medical center knows Overton as "Miss Willie." The celebration for her included the presentation of a plaque and a gift of roses.

"I'm a people person," said Overton as she laughed and waved at others walking into the hospital. "I love people."

Overton retired after 30 years, but quickly came back in a part-time role.

“I had no intentions of staying out anyway," said Overton, who started at the hospital when it still was segregated, but moving towards integration.

"It wasn't easy," she recalled.

Overton isn't the only one in her family working at Sentara. Her daughter, Judy Riddick, is getting ready to celebrate 40 years. She says her mother is an inspiration to her entire family and co-workers.

“This is her life and she was a single parent...and she's always been about working and supporting and having her family," said Riddick.

Overton served as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Now, she is a safety care partner. She sits with high risk patients who need one-on-one attention, including psychiatric patients, those at risk for falls and anxious patients who try to pull out lines and leads.

Overton’s daughter and niece both work in registration at the hospital and she has at least 15 relatives who have worked there over the years, including her parents.

As for when Overton may retire, she says she doesn't plan on stopping and it would take a lot to make her leave.