After 36 years of preparing thousands of meals for hungry students, Lynn Bruton, breakfast and lunch cook, has put down her spatula and retired. Her last day was at the beginning of January.
Bruton became a cook at Williamson in January 1988, preparing breakfast and lunch and working with servers, training KPs, and keeping the student helpers in line. She also did a lot of food and supply ordering. From 2000 to 2020, she worked a 6-day week, coming in on Saturdays to prepare breakfast and lunch for students who remained on campus over the weekend and athletes. She also packed meals for athletes going to away games, for students going on field trips, and for students spending the weekend on campus.
When Tim Burbage, director of food services, was out for six months recuperating from a motorcycle accident, she filled in for him.
She says she was firm with the students, but also kind to them. She didn’t hesitate to tell them when they were not working hard enough or were doing a task wrong. But she feels like she was teaching them a good work ethic and helping them raise their standards. “I held them accountable. If they were given a task, I expected them to do it correctly. They didn’t always like it, but I wanted them to learn. I take pride in my meals and I wanted the students to help make them the best.”
An enjoyable part of her job was developing friendly relationships with the students. “I got to know them well and their life situations. They enjoyed telling me about their lives; I was like a mentor to them. I enjoyed my interactions with them and they kept me young.”
Looking back over the years, she says she never ran into a Williamson alumnus off campus who didn’t know her; she worked with so many of them over the years.
Bruton has bittersweet feelings about leaving. “Williamson has been a large part of my life for so long, I am having difficulty realizing I won’t be a part of it any more. Now I have to find ways to fill the void.”
She says after she rests a few weeks, she plans on starting a senior center at her church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, where she’s been on the vestry a long time. It would include a place to socialize, make crafts, and serve community meals. “The church doesn’t have a center, so it would be a nice thing to create and I’m used to preparing meals for church events.”
She also has a nearby cousin who is planning to get her to go to her gym and go on walks, anything healthy.
Bruton says her three daughters are also affected by her retirement. “They grew up loving Williamson as much as I do and feel a part of the extended Williamson family. All they know is me working at Williamson. As we went through family milestones, I was always working at Williamson. They love this school and it means a lot to them. Lynsi was married in Williamson’s chapel, Emily worked a summer as a part-time receptionist, and Michelle met Nick Jackson 1W1 at a Wing Night and married him.”
She enjoyed working with Tim Burbage, the director of food services, and points out that she introduced him to his wife, Ginny, who was her neighbor.