Pontotoc Progress’s long time office manager Joyce Jolly has recently locked the cash drawer for the last time, announcing her retirement after more than 16 years service with the newspaper. A come and go retirement reception will be held for her this Thursday, January 9, 2-4 p.m.
Jolly came to work for the Progress in September 2003. “I started to work here on Harold’s [her late husband’s] birthday, is why I remember that it was September 8,” she said. “I learned about the job through a friend. When I came in and interviewed I thought it was something I’d like to do. I’ve always liked customer service.”
But when she actually put her shoes under the desk, she found out the job was much more than just customer service. “The job was tougher than I thought, but once I got the hang of it, it was okay. There was a lot to learn.”
One of her greatest challenges has been keeping up with all the paper work. “There are so many different lines of paper work in this job from the classifieds, to circulation to the legals and everything has to be right.”
Jolly first was a cashier at Bills Dollar Store in Okolona fresh out of high school and then she worked for Washington Mutual Finance for 12 years before coming to the Pontotoc Progress.
And being the face of the Pontotoc Progress for so many who come through the door, it has always been important to her to give her very best smile no matter what.
“This is a Christian calling. I may be the only smile some people have had that day. You never know what people have gone through or are going through when they come through that door,” she said.
She has watched her children, Michael and Christy, finish high school and go on to careers since she came to work at the Progress and her family is near and dear to her heart. She has married her son to Lindsay, buried her husband, and continues to live through seeing her little three-year-old granddaughter, Emmy Jo, take the last year of cancer treatments at St. Jude’s.
Reflecting back on the joy of having her first grand baby she smiled, “The first night she was here I rocked that baby all night long. The nurses came in and said ‘You haven’t laid that baby down all night long.’ And I said ‘I surely haven’t.’”
“My greatest joy is the family I’ve had here at the Progress,” she said. “I’ve been through a lot of trials and troubles and I’ve had the support of these people. I couldn’t have made it without them.”
Jolly will be missed by those whose lives she has touched at the Pontotoc Progress. Her ability to keep the office family moving and glued together has been her mainstay through these years.
Progress editor David Helms praised her ability to do many things within her duties as office manager. “Joyce was multi-talented and handled numerous responsibilities and treated everybody well. She wanted customers to come back so she treated them like friends and family. She was totally reliable. She never did anything unless she did it right.”
Sports Editor Jonathan Wise said he has always been amazed at her ability to stay kind even when customers were irate. “She always responded with patience and kind words no matter what the situation.”
General manager Lisa Bryant said she is going to miss Jolly’s strength. “Joyce is one of kind. She takes responsibility for something and you never had to worry or think about it again. I’m going to miss that smile. She helped me out a lot. She had a genuine desire to do her job right and she make it look so easy to keep everything straight.”
Ad consultant Angie Quarles said she will miss Jolly’s friendship. “She was a sweet friend to all of us. She was willing to help before I even asked her to and she was dependable. I could call and ask her to do anything and I didn’t have to worry about it.”
Ad designer Chelsea Williams said she is going to miss the morning conversations over coffee with Jolly. “She was always there to listen. And she did so much stuff that I never realized and she made it look so easy.”
Staff writer Regina Butler said she will miss that infectious smile. “I could tell if Joyce had a headache or if she wasn’t feeling well, but she always smiled. She didn’t let her physical ailments prevent her from being a perfect hostess to anyone who walked in the door, especially for us who had the privilege of seeing her every day.”
Taking Jolly’s place at the front desk is Tonya Criddle from Algoma. “She taught me a great deal in two weeks. She is a Christian lady. She helped me better myself through her amazing example of customer service. I’m going to miss her. I’ve become close to her just in this short time.
And now that Jolly’s time to punch a clock is over, what will she do? Being the efficient person she is, she already has her list made out, “I’m going to go home and play with Emmy Jo and I’ll get to visit with my brothers more often, but I’m going to miss seeing everybody. It’s going to be a different lifestyle, being at home and not being out in the public.”