Each year, LAGERS retirees submit photos of themselves patronizing their favorite local establishments during the annual LAGERS Loves Local photo contest. Linda McMillan, one of the 2021 contest winners, sat down with us at one of her favorite local establishments, Pizza House, to share more about how she and her husband James are loving local in Springfield, MO.
Linda McMillan spent the better part of her career serving the Springfield community as an employee of Springfield City Utilities (CU). Linda started her career with CU in customer service and, after taking time off to raise her children, finished her last twelve years as a dispatcher in the Utility’s Electric, Gas & Water department. She fondly describes her time there as a wonderful part of her life, especially noting the many wonderful people she worked with along the way
Linda said with a smile. “In fact, many of my old coworkers are still in my life after retirement. A group of us still come to Pizza House for lunch sometimes.”
“Lots of City Utility employees come here; in fact that’s a group over there,” Linda notes as she motions across the dining room. Not ten feet away, a table full of CU employees donning work boots and yellow vests, sat laughing and enjoying a hard-earned slice over their lunchbreak.
As we sat reminiscing about Linda’s career of service in the Springfield community, it was impossible not to soak up the quaint atmosphere of Pizza House. The warm, orange walls were dotted with antique signs; an old Coca Cola machine was nestled in the corner, and an eclectic collection of old lamps luminously framed the entrance, all the while happy patrons chatted cheerfully over the ‘best slice in town.’
Pizza House, which opened its doors in 1958, has long been an institution in the Springfield community, and a staple for many CU employees and retirees with its fresh hand-rolled, thin crust pizza. When it came time to order, Linda and her husband of 58 years, James, expertly suggested the lunch combo with the house salad.
“You have to try their salads. They have the best salads,” Linda encouraged. “We had our very first date here. It was James’ first time trying pizza.”
The place clearly stuck as Linda shares it’s still one of their favorite places to eat. And about halfway through the meal, it had become abundantly clear that retirees, like Linda and James, not only financially support Pizza House with their patronage, but they feed into the culture of the establishment and the surrounding neighborhood too, which buzzes with restaurants, boutiques, and a farmers market.
“Springfield is a wonderful community,” she remarks. “I was born and raised here, and although I moved to Kansas City for a time, Springfield will always be home. It’s a great place to live and work, and raise a family – there’s so much to do close by.”
When it comes to her retirement, Linda says LAGERS has provided a financial blessing in their lives. As small business owners themselves Linda and James not only appreciate having the ability to support other local businesses, but having predictable income from her LAGERS pension. “When you’re self-employed, you don’t get a pension, and I’m thankful every month when I receive my benefit,” Linda says.
That’s what loving local looks like for many LAGERS members across Missouri. LAGERS doesn’t just deliver stable paychecks for retirees, it also supports local government workers as they serve their community, and financially prepares them to continue to be an active part of their communities and local economy in retirement.
While Linda admits the transition into retirement was an adjustment for her, she and James are enjoying this time and spend their days volunteering, staying active in their local church, and doting on their grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.
With a smile Linda adds, “At first, I really missed the interaction with co-workers and the public, but now I appreciate the freedom to choose my own schedule. Our children are grown up and live away – but not too far for Nene and Papa!”
Our many thanks to Linda and James for taking time to visit with us and share their LAGERS Loves Local story! Next time you visit Springfield, be sure to check out Pizza House at 312 East Commercial Street, Springfield, MO.