April 26, 2011 / 8:28 PM / 8 years ago

State matriarch retires at 102 years old

LINCOLN, Neb (Reuters Life!) - A 102-year-old woman who works for the state of Nebraska is hanging up her professional hat, saying it is time to enjoy retirement.

Sally Gordon is seen on the first day of the 2011 Legislative Session with her son Jim Gordon. REUTERS/Courtesy of Karen Kilgarin/Handout

Sally Gordon worked for three governors before rejecting retirement and at age 75 started a new career as a legislative sergeant at arms.

For 27 years Gordon has worked as one of the Nebraska legislature’s five gatekeepers, ferrying messages from lobbyists to lawmakers during floor debate and keeping order during committee hearings.

She said health concerns were not a factor in her decision to retire on Tuesday.

“I just decided it is the time to do it,” she explained.

Dressed in a crisp crimson blazer and signature scarf wrapping her gray hair, Gordon is a former model known for her ornate hats and active lifestyle.

“Her hat collection would put English aristocrats to shame,” said State Senator Brad Ashford of Omaha, who has known Gordon since his first legislative term in 1987.

A Chicago native, Gordon grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado. She came to Lincoln as a teenager in 1927 and watched Italian craftsmen lay floor mosaics in the State Capitol. The landmark structure is 23 years younger than Gordon.

Gordon eats food slowly with chopsticks to stay slim. She walks everywhere.

One of her favorite sayings is, “Life goes by at such an amazing pace, perhaps that’s why they call it the human race.”

Last year, Gordon was named America’s “Outstanding Oldest Worker” by Experience Works, a nonprofit group that helps mature workers find jobs and new careers.

Gordon said her last day on the job would be emotional.

“I try to live every moment,” she said. “God didn’t give us a rewind button. He gave us a pause and a fast forward. I’m still young. I want to enjoy retirement.”

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