97 and still swiping [Video]

Bridgette Fossel

The Chartwells staff consists of a diverse group of people that work hard to satisfy the students and staff of Quinnipiac. There is something unique about Alice Barbieri that few may seem to recognize. She is 97 years old and still ringing up customers five days a week. She has done so for the past 25 years.

“Well, I like to work, and I am used to that. And when you work with nice people and enjoy what you do, you forget about your age and my mind just keeps focused on my work,” Barbieri said after swiping a student’s Q-card at her own relaxed pace through her cash register.

Check out NBC Connecticut‘s look at Alice:

“Well I was born Dec. 1, 1912, so you do the math!” Barbieri said when asked her age.

Most senior citizens retire by age 70 or sooner—Barbieri was born the same year the Titanic sank. That’s nearly a century ago ago and she is still swiping five days, 30 hours a week. She says she is still working simply because she can.

“I think it is admirable she is so old but still working,” sophomore Lauren Epifanio said. “She is a QU icon.”

Students enjoy Barbieri’s services for different reasons than just to see “the cute old lady.”

“I like going to Alice’s cash register when I have time because she gives off that loving grandmotherly vibe and it always makes me think of my own and that I should call her,” sophomore Danielle Chapman said.

Barbieri is independent for her age, living alone and maintaining a seven-bedroom house in Northford, just outside of North Haven.

“I believe she mowed her own lawn until she was almost 90,” Lucille Langella, a co-worker of Alice’s, said.

When Barbieri isn’t swiping Q-cards at her register, she might be crocheting or knitting a blanket. Alice is widowed and has two sons in their mid-70s living in Colorado. Despite their age, they are still working full time – it must run in the family.

“She still drives herself to work every day and takes the back roads – she refuses to go on the parkway,” co-worker Fay Natale said. “She is very pleasant to work with and is never late to work. Even in the bad weather, it doesn’t bother her when it is snowing or anything, she still comes.”

Leean Spalding, associate director of Chartwells, said that Barbieri will be turning in her well-worn apron to Chartwells tomorrow and moving into retirement.

“We feel that this is the best decision for Alice at her age, and we are so appreciative of her services,” Spalding said.

But Barbieri isn’t leaving QU for good.

“We are going to have a nice celebration in the Café during the first week of school [next September] in which she’ll come back for [the party] so that everybody can recognize her 25 years with us here,” Spalding said.

Photo credit: Charlotte Greene