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Popular food service worker retires from North Marion School District after 18 years

COURTESY PHOTO BY JILLIAN DALEY - Rosa Hernandez Portrait: Food Service worker Rosa Hernandez says goodbye to the Primary School, where she spent many of her 18 years with the North Marion School District.  Popular food service worker Rosa Hernandez retired this month after devoting 18 years to the North Marion School District.

"North Marion is such a good place to work; I really like it," Hernandez said.

North Marion was also lucky to have Hernandez, who is Spanish-English bilingual, and possesses a strong work ethic and a joyful nature. She officially retired on June 16 as a full-time food service worker. She came a long way, having started at North Marion as a substitute at all four schools, helping with food service, custodial work, and even as a preschool helper.

Her role shifted mainly to the kitchen in 2007, and seven years ago she earned her full-time status, although she continued to sub in wherever she was needed, often working long hours to support her family. Hernandez was assigned to the Primary School, where she made plenty of meals and dozens of friends.

"North Marion is a small district, and you get to know a lot of people," she said.

Primary School secretary Karla Morales Rivera said Hernandez is "a great friend who has a great, big heart for kids and staff, and is a joy to be around!"

Primary School Principal Allison Hunt agrees, saying that not only has Hernandez touched a lot of hearts, she has been an asset to the school district.

"Rosa is definitely always wearing a smile and has an infectious laugh," Hunt said. "She is willing to jump in and help with whatever is needed! She has sometimes filled in for the evening custodian when we needed her to — all after working her early morning kitchen shift! Rosa really has a soft spot for the students at the primary school. Her fun-loving nature definitely made her popular with both students and staff. We are really going to miss her!"COURTESY  PHOTO BY ROSA HERNANDEZ - Rosa Hernandezs Quilt: Rosa Hernandez makes T-shirt quilts for her loved ones, and Luna, her Pomeranian, cant resist pouncing on one of them while Hernandez is trying to get a photo.

Somehow, in the midst of all that hard work, Hernandez raised a family and got an education. She earned her GED at Chemeketa Community College and supported her three children (two girls and a boy), helping them raise 12 grandchildren while working for North Marion. All of her children now have thriving careers, likely learning a lesson in hard work from their mom.

Hernandez's incredible commitment to her job, naturally, arose from a life of hard work. Born in Monterrey, Mexico, as the eldest of 10 children, Hernandez (née Puente) married her current husband in 1976, and they moved to Texas three years later. They arrived in Oregon in 1987, moving to Canby and then Donald before settling in Aurora.

She started out her career in Oregon doing sewing and laundry at the Fairview Training Center, a former state facility in Salem for people with developmental disabilities. She left after 13 years only because the site itself shuttered. She took time off from paid labor to assist her daughters, who happened to both have their first child within months of each other. Hernandez returned to the workforce a year later, spending a year at Nike sorting returns and also doing a little sewing for a few years before finding her way to North Marion.

Now that she's retired, Hernandez plans to spend time with her family, including her 90-year-old father, who lives in Texas; her grandchildren; her children; and her dog Luna, a 3-year-old Pomeranian. Hernandez plans to continue with a hobbyist's light work, such as quilting, along with sewing repairs and alterations. She also intends to go camping with her husband and to visit the glamorous sights of Las Vegas.

"I'm not a gambler, but I love those places; they're so beautiful," Hernandez said of the towering, glittery casinos full of shopping and activities. "I love to watch the shows and see the lights in the city center!"

In fact, she loves taking the grandkids to the Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, which is aimed at the younger generation, and she and her family often jump into some of the lively activities available on the Vegas strip.

"We went ziplining," she said. "Can you believe it, with two grandkids and grandma going, 'ahh'?!"

Although for the past four years she has been meaning to retire and to take time and relax with her family (possibly doing a little more ziplining), she's still going to miss coming to work every day. But her family, especially her dad, needs her. So that's where she'll be.

Moreover, Hernandez, who is 66, has worked hard all her life. She's earned a little rest.

"It's time; it's time," Hernandez said. "Life is short. We have to enjoy a little bit before you go."

To share stories on the North Marion School District, email Communications Specialist Jillian Daley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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