On his last day at work, Joe Oliver spent his time meeting and greeting the many customers who knew him well at the McDonald’s store in Albany, Indiana.

“Well, I’m going to miss it. I’ll tell you that,” Joe said. “I already know that today.”

After 52 years working for the fast-food chain at their restaurants in and around Muncie, Joe finally retired Friday.

“A lot of tears have flowed from them and me and they’ve just all been happy I’ve been here,” he said about meeting long-time customers at the Albany restaurant where he works as a store manager.

At around 13 or 14, Joe started working at the McDonald’s on the corner of Charles and Madison streets in downtown Muncie.

“I liked what I was doing,” he said. “I did try other places, but they all wanted to send me away from Muncie and they didn’t pay as much as McDonald’s.”

The restaurant was also where he would meet the woman who would soon be his wife.

“I worked day shifts. He worked night shifts. I came in the evening for training and that’s how I met him,” said Joan Oliver, who has been married to him for 42 years. “We worked on Saturdays after that together, and the rest is history.”

Apart from liking his job, and starting his family, she said they also decided to stay around in Muncie because they liked the people and the community. She also said he could be recognized by someone everywhere he goes.

“He just knows so many people,” Joan said. “We can’t go anywhere where he doesn’t know somebody.”

Joe said this was largely because of his involvement with the community — being a Ball State alumnus and a member of Ball State’s Alumni Association. But the most meaningful contribution to the community for him was being a scout leader for most of his adult life.

“In scouting, not only is it just fun, but you get to mentor young boys to become young men,” he said. “You get to watch them grow, help them grow, mentor them day in and day out when you’re with them.”

Joe Oliver (second from left) poses for a photo as the scout leader of Camp Red Wing. He said being a scout leader was his most meaningful contribution to the Muncie community. Tim Underhill, Photo Provided

Joe said he has seen some of his scouts go on to become doctors, lawyers and chefs, some because of the skills they acquired from being part of Camp Red Wing — his scout troop.

“I’ll never quit scouting unless I’m just too old to do it,” he said, intending to take his scout troop for an outing up to boundary waters of northern Minnesota.

“I feel like Joe has given a lot of young men, especially because of scouting, a start in the job market,” Joan said. “A lot of people look up to him.”

After retirement, Joe plans to spend more time with his kids and grandkids. While one of his sons works in Granger, Indiana, two of them are involved in education in Muncie — one as the assistant principal of Muncie Central and the other as a special education teacher at Delta High School.

Joe, who grew up in Muncie and attended Muncie Central High School, said he would never move away from the city.

“I’ve always been an advocate for Muncie. I love Muncie,” he said. “I watched the downtown change. I watched it fade out, but it’s now growing and vibrant again, and new industry has come to Muncie. There's a lot of good things happening in Muncie.”

Contact Rohith Rao with comments at rprao@bsu.edu or on Twitter @RaoReports.