Vietnam vet retires from Zephyr Cove Safeway after 46 years
George Herrick likes helping people. And for 46 years he’s been in the business of doing just that as an employee of Safeway.
“I always try to help people as much as I can,” said Herrick on his second to last day at the Safeway in Zephyr Cove. “It’s how I’ve always been.”
After serving in the military for three years during the Vietnam War, Herrick returned to Northern California and logged giant redwoods for 10 years. When the operation shut down, he took a job at Safeway in Crescent City, California. In 1992, when his wife’s job got transferred to South Lake Tahoe, he made the move to Safeway in Zephyr Cove.
“I started scrubbing floors and worked my way up. But really, everybody is just making a big deal out of nothing,” Herrick said, referring to his retirement, as his coworker Helen Wright shook her head.
“He is the fixture of Safeway,” said Wright. “That man is so generous and so loving. He has done so much for this store, the customers and the community.”
“He’s our Mr. Fix It. Anything that breaks, we go to George,” continued Wright. “When new kids get hired and they are trying to stretch their dollar, he teaches them how to budget their money.”
Karen Boulet, a teacher at Zephyr Cove Elementary and a regular customer at Safeway, said Herrick would be greatly missed.
“Over my 20 years here in Zephyr Cove, George has seen my three children grow up,” said Boulet. “He is always friendly, outgoing, always says hello. Everyone who lives here has come to know George as the heartbeat of Safeway.”
Amazingly, in the 46 years that Herrick worked at Safeway, he did not miss a single day of work. He never even took a sick day.
“I went to the doctor last week for the first time since I was discharged [from the Army],” Herrick chuckled. “I’m living good I guess! I don’t smoke or drink. I’ve never even had a cup of coffee.”
The irony of his position as the liquor manager is not lost on him.
And when it snowed up in Lake Tahoe, Herrick — who lives down in Carson City — would sleep in his truck so he wouldn’t miss work the next day.
“Oh gosh, I can’t remember how many times,” said Herrick.
So what motivates Herrick every day (when so many have no qualms with taking a handful of “mental health days”)?
“Mainly it’s just to be able to provide for my family when I retire,” said Herrick. “And the people — the people I work with. It’s been great. I always just want to get up and go to work.”
But now it’s time for Herrick to take a well-earned break, one he envisions will be filled with quality time with his nine grandkids and lots of camping and fishing.