MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Most people look to retire by age 65, but for one hardworking grocery store employee in Montgomery, that mark was 35 years ago. She retired once but is showing no signs of putting in her notice again anytime soon.
Her name is Romay Davis, and she’s turning 100 years old in style thanks to her employers, Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of the Winn-Dixie supermarket on Vaughn Road.
The grocer held a lavish, in-store birthday party for Davis Tuesday afternoon, showering her with affection on her journey into the triple-digits. It started in the parking lot where Romay made a glamorous arrival in a Rolls Royce. As she stepped from the sedan, a band played music and she danced a bit as she was showered with ticker tape.
Followed by a large crowd in a celebratory mood, Romay took hold of the handle of a decorated shopping cart and was escorted under a balloon archway and into the store.
Those who have been inspired by her accomplishments and zest for life were asked to celebrate and share on social media how they’ll make Oct. 29 #RomayDavisDay, and they turned out!
The party came with the red carpet and velvet rope treatment, as well as an ornate chair that would make the Queen blush. It was draped in a backdrop proclaiming “Romay Davis Cheers to 100 Years!”
The store’s most senior employee, Romay took it all in while wearing a sash saying she is “100 & Fabulous.” Three cakes making up 1-0-0 sat before her. Along the red carpet was a plaque showing photos of the honoree through the years, as well as a board that was filled with birthday wishes.
She was showered with gifts, including a year of free groceries. And the City of Montgomery issued a proclamation marking her 100th birthday as “Romay Davis Day." And there was a round of the familiar “Happy Birthday” tune.
“I just want to say thank you, may God bless every single one of you,” a stunned Romay explained to the crowd. “I love you all, and I was so surprised. I don’t know if I can function for the next two or three days,” she joked, before showering the crowd with “thank yous.”
It hasn’t always been easy, but Romay Davis has persevered with a smile on her face and the goal of living life to the fullest, all while breaking a few barriers and glass ceilings along the way.
She was born Oct. 29, 1919, in Virginia, a time when people of color often faced discrimination and restricted rights. She turned 10 the day the stock market crashed, plunging the nation into the Great Depression.
After high school, Romay joined the U.S. Army and served her country in WWII. Upon returning home, she earned an education degree from New York University, then set off on a career path in fashion, making clothes for women and children. She traveled the world, even working as a model in New York before “retiring” in 1982. It was then that she moved to Montgomery with her husband.
She stayed active for the next 20 years and found time for traveling and painting. She even volunteered for causes like the adoption of military families in need. And at age 70, Romay even got her black belt in Taekwondo!
But after her husband passed away, Romay made the decision to go back to work. In 2001, at the age of 81, she put in an application at Winn-Dixie store No. 448 on Vaughn Road. She’s been on the job ever since.
A valued employee, Romay still drives herself to work and puts in 20 hours a week checking the dates on products so customers get the freshest products.
“They’re going to have to push me out,” she joked about her eventual retirement. She was assured that wasn’t going to happen.
WSFA 12 News featured Romay in 2016 when she was working in her 97th year. You can watch that video below.