85-year-old back at work to have fun despite respiratory illness

“That’s what life is about is having fun,” Stakelum said.

85-year-old back at work to have fun despite respiratory illness

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - She’s bored at home and has fun at work. That’s what inspires 85-year-old Gladdis Stakelum to go to work every day at Froogel’s in Bay St. Louis.

After a brief time away from work, one of Froogel’s most valuable greeters has returned to doing what she does best. Her secret to being able to go to work at her age can be summed up in one word, fun.

Froogel’s does everything that they can to save their customers money on the food bill. However, if you’ve been into the Froogel’s in Bay St. Louis, they have one additional asset that keeps their customers coming back day after day.

Gladdis Stakelum arrives to work at 10 a.m. but she’s not employed because she has to be, she does it because she has fun.

“This is something I have fun," Stakelum said. “I don’t have fun sitting at home. Do you have fun sitting at home?"

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Posted by Froogel's Cost+ Foods on Tuesday, October 20, 2020

It is obvious, just in speaking with Stakelum, that being 85-years-old has yet to slow her down. She greets every customer that walks through the door, despite an oxygen tank that she carries around because of a pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis.

“Everybody has to have so much oxygen and I don’t produce enough oxygen," Stakelum said. “So, they put me on oxygen which helps. It’s a little different, but I’ll get used to it. I’ll get used to that."

With only being back to work for two days, she seems to be handling it just fine and her customers are also very happy to have her back.

Bryan Leake, the store manager at Froogel’s, said he understands what a gift Stakelum is to not only his store, but his customers.

“She took two weeks off for the COVID," Leake said. “Every customer, all the customers were asking where she was at, when is she coming back. She’s just a great person to have in the store.”

Knowing that there is no cure for her illness, Stakelum said she will make the best of it.

“How many people at my age, at 85, can get out and laugh and have fun every day?" Stakelum said. “You don’t find people like that. That’s what life is about, is having fun.”

Stakelum said that she has worked for Froogel’s since it opened and will continue as long as she is able.

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