Irreplaceable icon of Love's 630 gets howling send-off
For 18 years, Leona Buford walked into work in a Love's uniform with a smile across her face. March 7, began the same way, but this day was different - it was her last shift as a Love's employee.
Chris Shaffer, general manager at Love's 630 in Enid, Oklahoma, is a man of many words, but this lone adjective encapsulates Leona's impact on Love's throughout her tenure.
In November, her husband received a job opportunity in Texas that was too good to pass up, and they decided to go for it.
"It's kind of bittersweet," Leona said in her final hours with her Love's family. "But still, I'm excited for a new adventure."
When Chris learned the news, he knew there was only one thing he could do.
"The relationship that she has with this store, the relationship that we have together, the fact that it's been 18 years; I couldn't let her walk out the door without something," Chris said.
That "something" turned out to be an intimate awards ceremony at the store with her family and co-workers. Among the parting gifts were a red Love's tumbler and a wolf statuette - Leona loves wolves. Both were engraved with her name.
"To me, it's the personal things that mean the most," Leona said.
As for what she would miss the most?
"The everyday Customers," Leona said. "The friendly people that just make you feel good to do what you do."
After 18 years, Leona walked out of work one final time - her Love's uniform was gone, but her smile never faded.