Jean Waddell wore an orchid lei and a white rose corsage as she worked her final shift at the Redmond McDonald's yesterday morning. The flowers were gifts to the Bothell resident...

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Jean Waddell wore an orchid lei and a white rose corsage as she worked her final shift at the Redmond McDonald’s yesterday morning. The flowers were gifts to the Bothell resident who officially retired — again.

The 84-year-old woman hopes to do better at the leisurely life this go-round. She first retired about 18 years ago, when she stopped working at a Kirkland nursing home.

“I was retired for a year and wanted something to do,” Waddell said. “Working keeps the brain moving. I came after a friend got a job here. Then the government was paying for senior citizens’ training, and it sounded like fun.”

The fun has lasted through 17 years of early-morning shifts, usually beginning around 5 or 6 a.m.

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“That’s when I’m the best, early in the morning,” she said. “I’m stopping now because I don’t want to commute during the winter.”

Yesterday’s workday was far from typical. Fellow employees chased her out from behind the counter, and shift manager Jan Parker carried a camera, snapping photographs of Waddell with regular customers who lined up to say goodbye.

One was Niels Thomson of Redmond. He teased Waddell about borrowing money with lots of zeros on it now that she was rich enough to retire. He said he’s going to miss Waddell. “Jean always knows what I want and has my order ready,” Thomson said.

Customer Rollin Bacon of Redmond, who routinely eats breakfast at the restaurant, said Waddell is always cheerful. Customer Mike Doyle said he admires Waddell’s work ethnic.

“Her car broke down once, and she got up early to catch a bus so that she wouldn’t be late for work,” he said.

Waddell hasn’t made any big plans for her second retirement. A great-grandmother, she enjoys watching television. She has already booked each Monday at noon.

That’s when Parker, the manager, and several other retired McDonald’s employees meet for lunch.


A gift of sight


Sarah Catteral of Redmond wanted no princes and no gifts at her princess-themed 5-year-old birthday party last night.

Instead she did something rather princely. The Redmond girl told her parents that instead of birthday presents she wanted to give someone who was blind the gift of sight. Catteral’s parents, Colleen and Andy, contacted the Northwest Lions Foundation for Sight & Hearing.

They learned about 13-year-old Adrian Gonzalez-Perez of West Seattle, who needs a cornea transplant in his left eye. The immigrant’s family has no money to pay for the operation. Although an eye surgeon had agreed to donate his time, the foundation still needed $1,975 to cover expenses associated with the transplant.

Sarah’s party may raise the necessary money. Two local pizza companies donated food; Costco gave the family a discount on the cake.

“Anything in the party budget that we don’t spend will go into the fund for Adrian,” Colleen said.


Just for kicks


It’s tradition in the theater world to wish someone luck by saying, “Break a leg.” So the gift to Martin Charnin was most appropriate. Charnin is the writer and director of “Robin Hood: The Legend Continues,” a musical that made its world debut Thursday at the Issaquah Village Theatre.

Early Thursday he received a big package from Freddie Gershon and the folks at Music Theatre International, the company that manages the rights to musicals such as “Annie” and “Damn Yankees.”

The card read, “Break a leg, or in this case, eat it. Congratulations.”

Inside was a life-size solid chocolate leg.

Sherry Grindeland: 206-515-5633 or sgrindeland@seattletimes.com