Lifelong friends clock-up 157 years of service

From left: Mrs Scott, Mrs Stewart, Ms Leader and Ms Cox

Four lifelong friends and long-serving Massey University staff members are set to embark on the next stage of their relationship as retirement beckons.

Sue Scott, Sharon Cox, Gayle Leader and Denise Stewart, have been friends since they met in their early teens at Palmerston North Intermediate Normal, before all continuing to Queen Elizabeth College together. Upon finishing secondary school in 1965 all four friends eventually came to work at Massey at the Manawatū campus in a variety of roles during their combined tenure of 157 years.

Ms Cox retired late last year from her role as a School of Humanities administrator after a mammoth 52 years along with Mrs Scott as a distribution services administrator after an impressive 37 years.

Whereas Ms Leader and Mrs Stewart retire in April from their roles as School of Engineering and Advanced Technology finance administrator and Institute of Agriculture and Environment group secretary.

The longest serving of the four, Ms Cox, says during her more than half a century at the University she has witnessed significant change.

“When I started at Massey in 1966 there were no such things as computers or the internet. To enrol, students would come onto campus a couple of days before classes started and line up in the Wool Building. We would sit behind desks as the students moved from station to station to process their enrolment. It would take them almost an entire day to get signed up, but it was quite exciting for us young staff to see all of the new people coming through,” Ms Cox says.

“It’s amusing to think back to the way we used to do things. I remember when it would be my turn to work in the telephone exchange. Instead of having direct dial numbers or clicking a button to transfer people through, we would have to go down to the switchboard and when the call came in you would pull the cord and then plug it in to the person required.

“To make copies of documents we couldn’t just send them to a photocopier either. We used a gestetner, which involves typing onto a skin, and rolling it around the machine to make copies. If you made a mistake you had to use pink correcting fluid,” she says.

Mrs Scott, who experienced the first taste of retirement during the Christmas break, says she worked in Distribution Services, the Assignments Office and the Examinations Team while at Massey.

Most recently she has worked in Student Administration and during her time with the department “met and worked with some really lovely people and made some long-lasting friendships campus-wide”.

"But now it is time to leave and enjoy my retirement spending more time with my family and friends playing more outdoor bowls and I hope to do some more travelling,” she says.

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