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Ready to retire? Not Max, PHS’s oldest employee

Today is “Team Tuesday,” when we recognize and appreciate Presbyterian Homes & Services employees serving in many positions across all our communities and Optage. This week, we introduce you to Maxine “Max” Engwall, who serves as a Receptionist at Harmony River in Hutchinson, MN.

Max has all the qualities of a skilled receptionist. She’s friendly, responsive, detail oriented, good with building directions, dispatches mail, packages and deliveries and is an expert in multi-tasking. She also understands the importance of being the first face of Harmony River for many people when they visit. But Max has one quality that distinguishes her.

Max is 98 years old.

“98 years, 9 months and 27 days to be exact,” she clarified. This qualifies Max as the oldest employee of Presbyterian Homes & Services—no contest. She may even hold the record as the oldest person ever to have been on the PHS payroll.

Max has been serving at Harmony River since it opened in 2008, but actually has worked at that location, which is the site of the former Burns Manor care center, for over 23 years. “I’ve worked all my life and never asked for a job,” she said. Max began her working life in her family’s jewelry store in Iowa in 1936. She worked as an on-air radio personality, an administrative secretary and a receptionist in several positions. She and her husband, Glen, moved to Hutchinson in 1955 where he served as Administrative Medical Director at Hutchinson Hospital. They raised their 3 children in the home where she still lives. Glen passed away 21 years ago. Since then, Max credits the deep relationships she enjoys with her family and friends for her happiness and her long life.

Why does Max keep working when most adults retire 30 years earlier? “There’s something about rolling out of bed every morning and feeling wanted and needed,” she explains. So she drives herself to work in her signature red 1992 Cadillac Sedan Deville that just recently turned over 100,000 miles. “It’s as old as I am in dog years,” she laughs.

Once on duty, Max delivers service with a smile that genuinely reveals her joy. “Why wouldn’t I come to work? The residents, the staff, the Fedex guy, the UPS guy; they all give me hugs!” she said.

As an older adult herself, Max feels both motivated and served by the PHS mission, “To honor God by enriching lives and touching hearts of older adults.” She said, “I try to be an example and inspire the residents here, that when you get up in the morning just be determined that you’re going to be happy. I also want to help make life meaningful for people so that they know they are cared for and loved.” She also feels how Presbyterian Homes fulfills its mission towards her. “Presbyterian Homes makes my life meaningful by giving me a job that I absolutely love,” she said.

Max will celebrate her 99th birthday in April. When people ask about her secret to longevity she tells them, “I really love living. I know my days are winding down so I tend to make the most of them. I don’t dwell on what happened yesterday; you can’t change that. We’re not promised tomorrow, so I’ve just decided I’ll try to live every day to the fullest,” she explains. “And I do love to have fun! I’m so very blessed to work for Presbyterian Homes at Harmony River, I’ll tell you that!” she said.
 

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