EAGLE — Emma Jean Wilcox, 82, has been making salads every Tuesday and Thursday as a volunteer at the Golden Eagle Senior Center for 16 years. There were also several years when she volunteered for the senior lunch program in Minturn as well. She’s moving on now, but Eagle residents are still likely to see her living it up at the Brush Creek Saloon or The Back Bowl.
“I played ‘Young at Heart’ for her on the piano at her retirement party last week because that’s what she is — she’s young at heart,” said Linda Carr, who has known Wilcox for 10 years.
Wilcox said she is going to use the extra time to go places, see things, spend time with family and watch football.
“I’ve got three teams I’ve rooted for my whole life — the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders,” she said, showing off some earrings with the Chiefs logo. “I was born in Kansas City. I’ll cheer for the Broncos when they’re not playing against one of my teams, though.”
Carr said Wilcox dyed her hair Kansas City red last week.
“It was pink before that,” Carr said.
Gina Demarest has been the head chef at the senior center the past two years. She said Wilcox has an infectious zest for life and helped her settle into her job when she started.
“She likes meeting new people and never says a bad word about anyone,” Demarest said. “She helped me plan menus by telling me what the seniors like and don’t like. They are big fans of mashed potatoes and gravy — gravy more than not. We limit the amount of gravy everyone gets, though. A little is good for the soul and too much is bad for the arteries.”
Demarest said Wilcox turned her on to the happy hour specials at the Brush Creek Saloon.
“I like the Brush Creek,” Wilcox said. “It reminds me of the bar I used to work at in Rangely.”
Carr said they go dance there sometimes and Wilcox gets a lot of attention.
“She thinks all the attention she gets is because people pity her but it’s because they love her,” Carr said.
Besides the bartending job in Rangely, Wilcox worked as a maid in Las Vegas for 30 years.
“She has Vegas stories that would make you blush,” Demarest said.
Wilcox said she has enjoyed making salads the past 16 years.
She was going to retire Oct. 24 but decided to stay on one more week since Oct. 31 is Demarest’s last day on the job. Carr is also planning to volunteer elsewhere now that Wilcox — aka “Grandma” and “Jeanie” — is moving on.
“She’s my best friend,” Carr said.
“I will miss the girls I work with and making the salads,” Wilcox said.