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“I felt, at 95, hey, that’s enough,” Jeanne Brouillet, who was given a big sendoff by fellow employees and adoring customers at her Edina store Monday, the same date she started so long ago, tells Yahoo Shine. “But I’ve always enjoyed working. I’m a people person. I like to be with people and work with people and meet people. I like to listen to people. I just think it’s interesting.”
Though Target has only become huge on a national scale in more recent decades, it’s actually been around since 1962, when it was founded in Roseville, Minnesota. Brouillet began working for the retailer on a cash register in 1968, in Bloomington, which she says was the fifth store in the chain. “The manager there used to conduct a morning meeting—you know, a little pep talk. And I remember one time he said, ‘We’re small now, but someday we’ll be huge,’” she recalls with a laugh. “He was right.”
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In 1973, she moved to the Edina store, where, among other positions, she worked in customer service for 17 years. In her most recent role, running the cookie-sample table, she notes, “I particularly got a kick out of the little kids who got to know me, and who would walk in and say ‘Mommy! Mommy! There she is!’ That always gave me a big thrill.”
Even before her Target days, though, Brouillet was no stranger to a hard day’s work. In Iowa, where she’s from, she and her late husband owned and operated a large restaurant for 20 years while they together raised three sons, now all living in Minnesota.
“She used to get up seven days a week at 4 o’clock in the morning to go and make dozens and dozens of fresh doughnuts, and decorate them with fancy icing; then she’d come home and get us all off to school,” son Robert Brouillet, a retired quality-control officer who lives with his wife next door to his mother, tells Yahoo Shine. “She’s a dynamo. I’m sure she must have been tired, but she never complained. She’s a remarkable woman, there’s no doubt about that.”
He adds that his mother, a “workaholic,” attempted to retire twice in the past — once in her 60s and another time years later — but it just never stuck. “I’m interested to see how long she can just sit around for, and I expect she’ll find a place somewhere as a volunteer,” he says. But whatever she winds up doing, he knows she won’t be idle for long. “She’s on the computer all the time. She’s up on current events, and she’s really into politics. She’s got an opinion on everything,” he adds. “She just bought a new car last year, and she drives everywhere she goes.”
To that, Jeanne, who also has two grandchildren, laughs. “Yes, I bought a Mazda,” she says. “Oh sure, why not? I can get around. The one thing I will not do is drive on the freeways. I don’t think anybody my age belongs out there.”
To other seniors who are wondering how they too can stay so active, she offers some words of wisdom. “My first piece of advice is to have a positive attitude. You’ve got to look at the bright side of everything,” she says. “Second is to eat a healthy diet, lots of fruits and vegetables.” To keep her mind sharp, she says she does the cryptogram word puzzles in her local newspaper every day and also reads a lot. And now, with all her free time, she expects to be doing a lot more of that—at least for part of the time.
“I intend to join the Silver Sneakers at the YMCA, for exercising and socializing, and to take care of some home projects,” she says. “I’m not going to sit around and just read all day.”
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