Longtime Wash Shed employee retires after 45 years

DOWAGIAC — With a line of washing machines behind her, Dowagiac resident Lula Ross attempts to pose for a photo during one of her final days working at the Wash Shed laundromat in Dowagiac. However, she keeps getting interrupted by customers coming up to her, hugging her and asking her how she is doing.

This is a typical day for Ross, 89, as she has become a mainstay of the laundromat in the 45 years she has been working there, but recently, she said goodbye.

Ross recently retired from the Wash Shed laundromat. In Ross’ honor, the Wash Shed in hosting an event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 9, in order to allow her customers to say goodbye and wish her well.

Ross began working at the Wash Shed in 1973 in order to keep busy during the day, as her husband worked nights and needed to sleep during the day.

“I came here and asked for a job,” Ross recalled. “I got it and I’ve just kept it all these years.”

In the more than four decades that she has spent at the laundromat, Ross said that she has seen the establishment through both good and bad times. Despite everything, Ross said that it is a good job that she has enjoyed working.

“You get used to the customers,” she said. “It is more than a job. You get to see the same people every day.”

For Ross, it is the Wash Shed’s customers — some of whom she has watched grow from children into adults — that made her job fun for her.

“They are great company,” she said. “I’m going to miss coming here and meeting all the people.”

Despite her love of Wash Shed and its customers, Ross said that now is the time to retire due to her age. She said that she plans to stay in Dowagiac and relax with the free time she now has due to retirement.

Ross’ years of hard work and dedication to customers has not gone unnoticed, said Bill Stockwell, owner of the Wash Shed.

“She is a really sweet lady, and the customers really seem to like her,” he said. “She always shows up and always does what she is supposed to do.”

Stockwell said that Ross’ 45 years of service is rare to come by. It is because of this and Ross’ work with customers that he will be throwing her the retirement party on June 9.

“This is for her and her customers,” he said. “After 45 years, not only should she be thanked, but recognized as well.”

Though she will no longer be working at the Wash Shed, she is not gone for good.

“I’m going to come back and visit,” she said.

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