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Huntsville Krispy Kreme’s First Employee Still Holds Her Post After 46 Years

We’ve started many debates in our newsroom over donuts.  We eat our fair share here at WHNT News 19.

But one woman has likely overseen more of those orders than anyone else.

Her name is Cora Barber.

She’s the first employee Krispy Kreme hired in Huntsville, and she’s still there today.

Before the Krispy Kreme in Huntsville even set their Hot and Ready sign ablaze for the first time, a different bit of window dressing drew in Cora Barber – a Now Hiring placard.

Cora got the pastry pushing gig, and by now, she’s been at it a few years.

She specifies, “I’ve been here since March 29th, 1968.”

She’s cheating a little bit with the opening date; she remembers it for another reason, “We opened on my first son’s eleventh birthday, and of course, I would think he got donuts.”

Her son got one of the first dozens of dozens, and in the forty-six years since then, Cora has helped her fair share of donuts make it off the line. She can only guess as to how many.

The donuts alone couldn’t keep her coming back though.

“Well, I guess it’s the people,” she says, “I enjoy the people.”

That never changes.  Cora faces wave after wave of customers, serving them breakfast and coffee – sweet as sugar, smooth as cream.

She tries not let anything phase her work – not the addition of a drive-thru, which she admits made her nervous – nor the loss of a child.

Barber says, “I’m proud of my boys, and I had one girl. She passed away in ’77, so of course, I had to deal with that too. But as life goes, you have to go with it.”

To make it in a given pursuit for as long as Cora, you need perspective. Forty-six years of anything gives it to you in spades.

Barber muses, “I have people come in here, and maybe you tell them what the price of the donuts are, ‘Well I can remember when I got a dozen for so-and-so,” and I say, ‘Yes and I remember when I started out working for a $1.40-an-hour too.”

Over time, even the sweetest sirens dull their tones.

“People come here and say, ‘Oh it smells good,'” and Cora just responds, “I don’t smell it anymore.”

To keep going takes strength.



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