Centenarian reflects on 77-year career working for California

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Not many people get to celebrate a 100-year birthday and even less get to do it with their coworkers. 

May Lee, a 77-year veteran, walked into the Department of General Services building Tuesday for the first time since the COVID-19 led her and many of her colleagues to work from home.

“I’m glad to see all my friends. I miss socializing with all of them,” Lee said.

Lee has been working in finance and accounting, keeping track of the state’s buildings and money. And she’s done it using every method in the book.

“From an abacus to a comptometer to a straight adding machine is quite a change,” Lee explained. 

And the changes keep coming. 

Typically, she celebrates her birthday in the DGS atrium with about 2,000 state employees. But worried about everyone’s safety in the midst of the pandemic, she opted for brunch with a few coworkers.

“I enjoy working with each and every one of them,” Lee said. 

When asked why she’s been working going on eight decades, she said she likes what she does and it keeps her mind sharp. 

So when she transitioned from her more time-consuming position as an accounting officer, she simply took up another role.

“I came back to all the things that I wished I could do, so I did ‘em,” Lee said.

Still, she knows how to find a good work-life balance. 

The centenarian said she has been to all seven continents and 150 countries. 

Her notable trips include a Chilean military property in Antarctica and traveling from Moscow to Vladivostok on the Trans-Siberian Railway. 

Her advice to young workers? Be of service.

“By helping them you learn something new,” Lee explained.

Lee told FOX40 she still has no plans to retire.


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