Reporting by WVUA 23 Reporter Lacey Beasley

A dining hall on campus is known not only for tasty food and good company between classes but also for a sweet lady everyone calls Ms. Bessie.

Bessie Ellis, 79, has worked at The Fresh Food Company for almost 11 years and she still has as much energy as the day she started.

“I just know my job, and what I got to do and when I got to do it, and I’m just in a fast pace all the time,” she said. “It’s just great.”

Her day begins at 3:30 every morning with a cup of coffee before she has to be at work at 6 a.m. She said the morning can be the craziest time of the day as everyone prepares for students to arrive. But, as soon as those doors open, she’s all smiles.

From building relationships with students to taking care of her treasured orange juice machine, Ms. Bessie said there is nothing she does not like about her job.

“I like all of it,” she said. “I just look forward to coming every day and just dive in and get it all done.”

Students, along with Ms. Bessie, are pretty busy during the week, so long conversations are hard to come by. But, for the ones who do get a minute to chat, Ms. Bessie knows what they like.

“They all tell me it’s great to see me because they know I’m gonna have oranges in the orange juice machine, and the rest of them don’t attend to it like I do,” Ms. Bessie said.

The breakfast nook is where Ms. Bessie spends most of her time, cleaning and making sure there is plenty of food out for students. But for students running in and out of the area, they may not realize it doesn’t happen by magic. For the people who work here, they know it’s Ms. Bessie taking care of everything.

“She gets up and comes every day,” said Chef Manager Shirley Miles. “Even when she’s not feeling good, she’s here. So, she makes Fresh Foods. She’s the fresh part of Fresh Foods.”

Ms. Bessie is a two-time cancer survivor, yet she has no plans of retiring or slowing down. In fact, she’s planning the opposite.

“As long as I feel good and can get around and the good Lord lets me, I’m gonna work,” she said.

That’s Ms. Bessie Ellis, and that’s the Spirit of Alabama.

If you have a story you’d like for us to feature, email us at spiritofalabama@wvua23.com.

Categories: Spirit of Alabama