At the age of 93, Gregory Rother retires from Cub Foods in HastingsIf you ask Hastings resident Gregory Rother how he’s doing, be prepared for a unique response. “Finer than hen’s teeth,” he’ll often say. “Finer than toad’s hair,” is another favorite.
By: Chad Richardson, The Hastings Star-Gazette
If you ask Hastings resident Gregory Rother how he’s doing, be prepared for a unique response.
“Finer than hen’s teeth,” he’ll often say.
“Finer than toad’s hair,” is another favorite.
These sayings are something his co-workers at Cub Foods in Hastings have heard for almost three decades. That said, those co-workers are now former co-workers. At the age of 93, Rother is going to hang up his deli apron and retire.
Don’t expect him, though, to stop working altogether. He’s decided he’s going to help out at his church, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. When there are funerals, he said, someone has to do the dishes. That’ll be him.
“I’ve got have something to do besides nothing,” Rother said last week.
That Rother is going to stay busy even at the age of 93 isn’t news to Mike Harris, an assistant manager at Cub and a longtime co-worker of Rother’s. The two got to know one another when Rother came to work for Harris and Don Bohlken at the Hastings County Market in the 1980s.
“He was one of the best,” Harris said. “His skills, of course, coming off the farm were so phenomenal for us in the County Market years. He wasn’t afraid to fix anything. He had the knowledge and the skills to fix almost anything that broke down.”
“The guy can do anything and everything,” Bohlken said. “I learned a lot from him. When I retired, I thought Greg would probably go with me, but he came up to me and said, ‘Where do I get an application for Cub?’”
When Rother wasn’t fixing problems in the store, he was sent out on deliveries.
“He knew everybody in town,” Harris said. “It was fortunate for us, and for him, that he could go out and see people and make deliveries. He was as dependable as the day was long. If he was supposed to be there, he was there.”
Most mornings, Bohlken and Harris would go out for breakfast. Most of the time, Rother would come along.
“Down at Nancy’s Café, he’d order eggs and the waitress would come out and say, ‘I’m sorry, Greg, but I broke the yolk,’” Harris said. “He’d just say, ‘That’s OK. I can’t eat it whole anyway.’ He didn’t let things bother him.”
Some weeks he’d be on an oatmeal kick and had no problem ordering it two days in a row, which sometimes drew flak from the wait staff there.
“That’s what you had yesterday,” one waitress told him.
“That’s OK,” he replied. “I can’t taste what I ate yesterday.”
That positivity made him a joy to be around, Harris said.
“He’d always had the thought that, any time there was a problem, it was never so bad that it couldn’t be worse,” Harris said.
On Thursday of last week, the staff at Cub Foods and Bohlken threw a retirement party for Rother. During the party, the deli manager at the store asked Rother who was going to be doing all the bailing of the cardboard to be recycled now that he was retiring.
“Just save it for me,” he told her.
Rother grew up south of Farmington in the Castle Rock area, where he was a farmer. He retired, moved to Hastings almost 40 years ago and began a new line of work. He was in construction, worked at Hudson Manufacturing, and then, eventually, settled in at County Market.
He got his start in maintenance and delivery and eventually found a spot in the deli.
“They are very nice people to work for,” he said.
Rother is happily married to Agnes Rother, who will turn 90 soon, he said. The couple has six children.
He said he has remained employed for so long just so he can stay busy.
“They were all good days,” he said.
“He was a really neat guy to have working with us,” Harris said. “We’re certainly going to miss him, but we look forward to seeing him in the store in a different capacity.”