Laura Darley has lived in Laurens County for almost all of her eighty-five years. She grew up on a farm near Rockledge. Life was tough for Laura's parents, Ashley and Tiny Stewart, during the Great Depression. After she graduated from Wilkes High School, Laura married Johnnie Darley. They had seven children, five boys and two girls. Johnnie died way too young in 1970.
After leaving the school, Laura took a job at Quincy's Restaurant in Dublin. She worked along with her son Doyce, who was the one who cooked those fabulous, triple-buttered yeast rolls that put a smile on our faces and inches on our waist lines. "When I worked there, my family would always ask me to bring them some home when I got off work," Mrs. Darley, who only worked at Quincy's for a short time, fondly remembered.
Then in the middle of April in 1999, Laura's life took a change for the better. She took a job at Chick-fi-la. "I went over and applied for a job and Mr. David Roberts hired me," Laura recalled.
Laura's shift starts at lunch and lasts only three hours. It is her job to keep the place neat and tidy. She really doesn't mind those who leave their tables and booths in a mess. After all, it's her job to make the eating areas so clean that you wouldn't know anyone had eaten there in a while. One customer, who requested anonymity, keeps an eye on his drink, careful to move it every 20 seconds or so, to make sure Mrs. Laura doesn't come by and pluck it up. And, she does that six days a week. She reserves the seventh day for the Lord and her family.
David Roberts once thought that when she first came to work that Laura would work for only a short time. "Now, she's been here for about 12 years, and " She has only missed a handful of days and her work ethic is unmatched," Roberts continued. On some days, Mrs. Laura has to work up to the strength to get over the normal aches and pains of someone her age just to make it in to work. "She is always in a good mood. She has been a blessing to us," Roberts observed of his longest serving employee.
Laura Darley will celebrate her 85th birthday on Thursday, March 31. Unless her boss gives her the day off, Laura will be working the lunch shift, just as she has for the last dozen years.
So, if you want to wish her a happy birthday, stop by at lunch and there you'll find Miss Laura, doing what she does best, being a grandmother who picks up your crumbs and your trash and never fusses at you.