Magazine On-line [spring 2012]
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Letha Mattingly retires after 32 years working in Forrer Dining Hall

letha mattingly
 Letha Mattingly sits with an assortment of cupcakes—her favorite dessert—prepared by Sodexo.

For 32 years, Transylvania students walking into Forrer Dining Hall for a bite to eat have seen the same smiling face greeting them and taking their cash and Crimson Cards. Letha Mattingly, 82, retired November 30, and Transylvania celebrated by serving up a lunch menu of her favorite items, including country fried steak, fish, mashed potatoes, peas, hushpuppies, and all the cupcakes anyone could eat. The price for lunch was $1.75—the cost in 1979 when Mattingly started.

Mattingly, who is originally from Bath County, Ky., received a bevy of thank you cards and well wishes from students, faculty, and staff, and Transylvania gave her a rocking chair that will get good use in her retirement years.

“I just love Transylvania and all the students, faculty, and staff,” Mattingly said. “They were all so nice—I got so many cards, and I love my rocking chair. Transylvania takes a real interest in the students, and I think it’s such a great school. I will miss everyone there.”

Mattingly was well known by the campus community for her smile and kind words as she greeted each person who walked into the dining hall. She experienced a lot of changes in how the dining hall operates and learned everything she could about new systems and new managers. When she started working at Transylvania, she had a handheld clicker she would use to count the students coming in when they showed their student IDs. Today’s system is a network of card swipes with varying meal plans recorded electronically.

“Ms. Letha was arguably one of the most dependable and determined employees we had at Sodexo at Transylvania,” Sodexo operations manager Nicki Covey said. “She was a pleasure to work with and had a distinguishable laugh that would light up the hallways and dining hall. She always wanted to do the right thing and learn new ways to do her job, and she was quick to offer a smile and ask how you were doing. Ms. Letha’s top priority was always making sure the students were happy.”

Mattingly remains at her home in Lexington for her retirement. She said she’s spent much of her time so far writing thank you letters to those who gave her cards and gifts.

“I’m so thankful for everyone at Transylvania, and I pray every day for them,” she said.

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