Loyalty, honesty, integrity, intelligence, compassion — those are the attributes Lauer’s Supermarket & Bakery co-owners Bernie Snoops and Babbie Poyer use to describe Betty Ann McNelly, their friend and former employee, who just retired from the Pasadena landmark.
On April 4, family, friends and co-workers of McNelly gathered at Two Rivers Steak & Fish House to celebrate her retirement after 42 years of wonderful employment with Lauer’s, which is also celebrating its 45th anniversary in Pasadena this year.
“The party was phenomenal — the dinner, the flowers, the cake and gifts! Everything was really just over the top,” McNelly said. “I always hoped that I was liked, and I’d like to think I was. I just had no idea just how much!”
McNelly joined Lauer’s in 1977 as a cashier after leaving a Maryland state government position and after the birth of her first child. The position was flexible, and McNelly could choose her own hours, something that was paramount for her young family. Her husband worked during the day, and in the evening, McNelly worked at Lauer’s. Shortly after both of her sons started school, McNelly moved to full-time and was able to collect benefits for herself and her family. When her sons were old enough, they also worked at Lauer’s.
“Betty Ann joined Lauer’s within a year of opening the first store on Mountain Road,” Poyer said. “Her genuine caring [nature] and integrity were immediately apparent to all and she became part of the Lauer’s family. As small-business owners, our parents genuinely cared about the employees, who are the backbone of the business.”
The feeling was and continues to be mutual.
“I felt like I was their sixth daughter,” said McNelly, referencing Ed and Helen Lauer. “I’ve never seen anyone work harder than Bernie and Babbie. The generations may have changed, but the good, strong feeling of family for employees and customers has never changed.”
When Lauer’s opened the Edwin Raynor Boulevard store, McNelly transferred and became the front-end manager, a time she called “very exciting.”
The three women giggled as they reminisced about “growing up together” and retold stories of four decades of friendship as they posed for their Voice photograph.
“Betty Ann became part of our lives both in and out of the store,” Snoops said. “We played on basketball and softball teams together, and saw each other’s children born and married and have children of their own.”
McNelly said, “I didn’t want to leave, but it was time. I’m a Lauer for life.”
She and her husband, also retired, plan to do some long-needed projects around their home, travel to the beach and to Florida for some rest and relaxation, and spend every possible moment with their two grandchildren.