Holy Redeemer cooks get schoolwide send-off into retirement

By Megan Erbacher

After 17 years at Holy Redeemer Catholic School, Pam Ambrose retired as cafeteria manager at the end of the school year. Ambrose claimed she would take the summer off, but admitted she may get bored by the time winter comes around.

Her co-workers teased her she would end up returning to Holy Redeemer to volunteer.

“Who knows, maybe I’ll go out the same way I came in,” Ambrose laughed and joked about returning to the school to help.

Pam Ambrose, left, and Hilda Spahn smile and laugh as students and guests share fond memories of the longtime cooks who retired at the end of the school year.

On May 14, Holy Redeemer students and staff gathered in the cafeteria to bid adieu to three longtime cooks who retired this year: Ambrose, Hilda Spahn and Shirley Heichelbech.

Heichelbech, who wasn’t present at the farewell celebration, spent about 22 years working in Holy Redeemer’s cafeteria. Spahn worked in the lunchroom for 29 years.

Holy Redeemer principal Tim McIntosh introduced the ladies at the send-off as “our beloved cooks for many years.”

Students presented the ladies with flowers, gifts and cards. Other students and a few
guests shared their favorite meals, which included chicken nuggets, pizza and soup; followed by Holy Redeemer student Lilly Mayfield, who sang Ave Maria.

Ambrose was a stay-at-home mom who volunteered at the school because her three sons attended and, eventually, she said the volunteering turned into working in the cafeteria for 17 years.

“The kids are the whole reason I’m here,” she said. “It was a great job for me when my kids were in school because they went here, so I was off when they were off. I have a lot of really good memories. The people and the families I’ve worked with have just been great.”

Spahn said she was inexperienced when she started at Holy Redeemer, but everyone was helpful and supportive. She plans to travel and exercise more in retirement.

“It was very rewarding to work with the kids and to see how they enjoyed the lunches,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful place to work and with wonderful people.”

Father Jason Gries, pastor of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, ended the send-off
with a prayer and special blessing for the women. He asked students to raise their hands as he prayed, and thanked God for the many years of life and meals the women shared.

Father Jason asked God to continue to lead them as they enjoy time with family and loved ones, and to always know the love and care they have at Holy Redeemer.

Father Jason Gries, center, pastor of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, blesses retiring cooks Pam Ambrose, left, and Hilda Spahn.