Santa Paula Times

Sally Cook, long-time city customer service representative, is still smiling at her recent retirement celebration.

Sally: SP longtime customer service clerk with trademark smile retires

November 17, 2010
Santa Paula News

Everyone knows Sally Cook - or at least is familiar with her smile - and Sally has been smiling for decades at customers, either at the former Santa Paula Water Works or at City Hall after the municipality purchased the utility. Cook, a Santa Paula native known affectionately by her coworkers as “Queen Bubbliest,” retired November 3.

October 30 was Sally’s official sendoff, with a large party at La Cabaña where friends and coworkers - past and present - gathered to wish Sally farewell and good luck. Santa Paula Fire Captain Jerry Byrum produced a video showing Sally in her usual mode of smiling broadly and having fun while creating fun for others.

Indeed Sally’s smile is infectious: When having a bad day, Annette Talon said, “I always thought when I saw Sally’s smile ‘I can do this another day....’ I thank you for being there and teaching me customer service. You really showed me a lot.”

Liz Murillo said she has worked with Sally for 17 years, first at the waterworks and then at the city. “She’s been with me every single day and made it special,” including, said Murillo, Sally spontaneously offering snatches of favorite oldies but goodies songs to relieve workday stress. “I’ve been the luckiest person in the world... Sally is never, ever sad,” and Murillo said her coworker - with whom she shared “our own language” - caused others to cheer up just by example.

Jay Barry said whenever he returned from being dispatched to a customer, “When I came back there was that smile,” and Sally was always ready with a joke.

Ruben Gomez, a retiree who worked with Sally at the water company and the city, said being retired means “You can do whatever you want... but you always did!”

Sally always expressed a desire to work in the field rather than in an office, but Gomez said the wish came with a caveat: “She wanted to be a meter reader, but I told her she couldn’t do that in short skirts... and she wanted to create her own schedule” to avoid working outside on anything less than a sunny day. “Sally is one of a kind, and everyone always enjoyed her” upbeat personality and sincere smiles.

Sally went to work for Santa Paula Water in 1984, and then the city in 1996 upon completion of the acquisition. Of the 27 water company employees that came to work for the city, Sally said that upon her retirement only seven would remain. She thanked her family, especially husband Rick Cook, for their strong support over the years.

One the best birthday gifts Sally said she ever received was an Easy Button she kept on her desk at City Hall. “I’m going to take my Easy button with me,” but Sally gave each of her closest friends and co-workers - past and present - an Easy Button of their very own.