The average age at which Americans report retiring is 62, according to a Gallup poll.
But Lucille Nickolay, 93, is not average. She retired from the State Bank of New Prague last month after working there 75 years.
She started as an 18-year-old bookkeeper in 1940 and worked her way up to vice president, she said, and never considered working elsewhere.
“It was like a second home to me,” she said. “I liked the work, I liked the people I was always working with, I liked the customers.”
A lot has changed in Nickolay’s time at the bank. In 1940, Franklin Roosevelt was president and a loaf of bread cost a dime.
Everything at the bank was done by hand, Nickolay said, before computers took over.
While she wasn’t great with technology, she was always good at math. That’s how she got the job, despite the fact that only one other woman initially worked at the bank, she said.
“Most of your customers were men,” she said. “The women weren’t doing any business — they were at home with their families.”
Gradually, that changed, with women “taking over the books, becoming the bosses,” she said.
Nickolay, who walked to work until three years ago, when the bank moved, eventually slowed down, working three days a week.
When she decided to retire, she didn’t want any fanfare, said her nephew Chuck Nickolay, who is the mayor of New Prague.
In fact, she almost didn’t attend the retirement dinner that bank employees planned for her, he said. He described her as a humble, levelheaded aunt who always remembers birthdays with a card and a little money.
“A lot of the people she dealt with [at the bank] just trusted her knowledge of the banking industry,” he said. “She just makes people feel at ease.”
In retirement, she plans to garden and organize her stamp collection, she said. But she still keeps her money at her first — and only — workplace.
“If I wasn’t this old,” she said, “I probably would still be there.”