STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — An 81-year-old waitress who has been a fixture at a popular Penn State hangout for more than six decades has worked her final shift.

Emma Gunsallus retired Tuesday from The Corner Room, where she worked as a waitress for 61 years. The Centre Daily Times reports Gunsallus worked her first shift at the restaurant in the 1950s and has not missed a shift since.

"To me the restaurant has meant good food and good people," Gunsallus said. "But the people is what I'll miss."

One of the patrons she likes to reminisce about is former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno, who was an assistant coach on Rip Engle's staff when she started her career at the restaurant.

Paterno was a regular and he always took the time to find Gunsallus and give her a hug, just like many alumni who came in when they were in town, co-owner John Cocolin said.

Cocolin says Gunsallus' greatest contribution has been her big smile and infectious personality.

"People just love her and it's meant a lot to me to be able to see all of the people who came in and were so happy just to see her," he said.

Recently, she moved to a hostess position which still let her greet and chat with the regulars.

Since word spread at the restaurant that Gunsallus was retiring, she's received gifts from customers. General Manager John Briggs says there had been a steady stream of people coming in to wish her well.

"She's a living legend if you will and an iconic member of the community," he said. "We're going to really miss her."


Information from: Centre Daily Times,