Long-time Byron grocery employee gets a special send-off - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Long-time Byron grocery employee gets a special send-off

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BYRON (WREX) -

If you have ever been to the County Market store in Byron, then there is a good chance you have met employee Tommy Whetsel. 

Friday was Whetsel's last day at the store. He is retiring after working for decades at the town's grocery store, and people at the store and in town made sure to give Tommy a grand send-off. 

Normally Tommy gets up and leaves for work at the same time everyday: 6:40 a.m. But Friday, he got a special ride to his job.

Tommy received a fire truck escort to work.

Once at work, Tommy was remembered for his years of service.

Don Roe, Store Director at the Byron County Market, calls Tommy a "legend."

"Everybody knows him," Roe says. "We've got customers come in just to see Tom." 

Tommy is known for his friendly face, but also for his hard work. "A work ethic I can't tell you enough about," Roe says. "He still to this day just works and works and works." 

Tommy Whetsel has stocked the store's shelves for the past 33 years. But anyone who knows Tommy knows he is a creature of habit: coffee break every morning at 9 a.m., chicken salad, jello and coffee for lunch. 

But Friday's schedule changed a bit, as friends and co-workers stopped by the store to honor and thank Tommy for his years of service. So, Tommy's break lasted just a bit longer than normal. 

Tommy is so well known around the area that Friday was named Tommy Whetsel Day in Ogle County. 

With that work ethic and infectious laugh, Tommy leaves a hole nearly impossible to replace. 

"A very big hole, that's what I told him," Roe says. "He's gonna be a hard one to fill. There's nobody like Tommy."

Tommy says that while he is retiring, he is going to greatly miss the customers and staff. 

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