After 44 years, Blugold Dining staff member shows no sign of quitting

Long-time staff member is cleaning tables and bringing smiles to students

More stories from Sydney Purpora


Photo by Sydney Purposa

Blugold Dining staff member, Susie Deacon, still finds joy in her job after 44 years.

A student sits alone in the cafe. It is below freezing, snow is in the forecast and she has to spend the day working with children outside. It is only an hour before she has to go to work and there she sits, wondering how she will make it through the cold with only her jacket and a scarf.

While she decides what to do, up walks a woman who politely asks if she is done with her plate. Reaching for it, she notices the distressed look on the student’s face and asks what is wrong. She sits beside her and begins to listen to her story.

As she learns more about the student’s situation, she offers to help. Getting up from her seat, she says she has something for the student and scurries to the back room. She returns with a smile on her face and a pair of mittens in her hands.

Lending her mittens to a student is nothing out of the ordinary UW-Eau Claire dining staff member Susie Deacon said. She has been working at the Riverview Cafe for 44 years and she said her favorite part of her job is seeing the students every day.

“I really like being around the kids,” Deacon said.

Born and raised in Boyceville, Wis., Deacon made the move to Eau Claire in her late 20s to find a job, Deacon said. She said she was lucky to find an ad to work with students on campus and got the job shortly after.

Hired to the Blugold staff on Dec. 28, 1972, Deacon first started as a cashier at the previous venue, Little Niagara. Marvin Johnson, a manager of Riverview Cafe, said she got to know students’ names and stories which kept them coming back.

“It was a popular venue because it had good food,” Johnson said, “but also because she was there.”

When they relocated to the Riverview Cafe, Deacon switched to washing dishes and cleaning tables and has been ever since. Working from 8 a.m. — 4 p.m. on weekdays can get tough but it is worth it, Deacon said.

Even after the move, Johnson said Deacon has continued to impact the students and she has been their favorite throughout the years.

“She just makes you smile,” Johnson said. “Everybody loves her.”

Over the years at Riverview Cafe Deacon has gotten to know the students who regularly come in during her work hours, particularly the foreign exchange students. Deacon said she was introduced to the students from China and Thailand and they referred to her as the “awesome lady.”

“Now when they come and see me they call me Miss Susie,” Deacon said.

Deacon has not only impacted the students who come in but also her co-workers.

Toni Moen, a co-worker of Deacon’s, has been working alongside her for 16 years and recognizes the passion she has for the job.

“She loves her job and she loves these kids,” Moen said.

Deacon said she wants to continue working and interacting with students. She said she is content with her job and doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon.

“I like my job,” Deacon said. “I am planning on staying for awhile.”