Lillian Dudczyk, 97, still working and loving it
BROOKFIELD – It all began with a little white lie.
When Lillian Dudczyk graduated Eli Whitney Elementary School in Chicago, she lied about her age to get a job at Turner, a factory that made picture frames. Dudczyk said she fibbed because she wanted a job, and the regulations were not as strict regarding working age in those days.
Dudczyk, a Brookfield resident, is now 97 years old and is still working regularly. She files paperwork at Creative Dental, 3739 Grand Blvd., in Brookfield, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Every Monday and Friday she takes the Pace bus to Creative Dental and works in her own private office where she pulls patient’s charts, files paperwork, double checks their personal information and talks to the customers – something she is particularly strong at is making them feel comfortable, she said.
Up until two years go, Dudczyk was driving to work, but had to stop when she broke a bone in her heel. She has to wear a brace and a boot now, which makes it hard for her to drive, but it’s not enough to slow her down.
Although Creative Dental has gone through some name and ownership changes over her career there, Dudczyk has been working at the dental care company for 46 years.
Dudczyk said the best part about her job is meeting with the public. In her job at the office, she has seen children grow up, get married and have children of their own.
The original owner of the dental care practice asked Dudczyk, a patient at the time, to work for him. She said she had no idea what she would do, but the dentist said he would teach her. For the first couple of weeks, she trained with the dentist during his lunch break, and has been working there ever since.
Jerry Gardner, the current dentist at the practice, said he told Dudczyk the job was hers for as long as she wanted it. Always feisty, Dudczyk said she wanted it in writing – and he did just that. Now Dudczyk has a contract, though probably not legally binding, among her stacks of papers in her office.
“She makes you laugh,” Gardner said. “For anyone who meets her, she leaves quite an impression. People who aren’t patients come to see her.”
Gardner says Dudczyk doesn’t show her age at work.
“She has a lot of energy for a woman her age, or for any person for that matter,” he said.
Carol Polcyn, a receptionist who has been working at Creative Dental for six years, said that people come in asking for her.
“She’s a pleasure to be with and work with,” Polcyn said of Dudczyk.
Dudczyk’s job is her life, she said. Although she is the only one of her friends still working, she keeps going. She doesn’t need any hobbies or things like that, she said. She just wants her job.
Her tip on living a long and happy life is to just keep working.
“Get up in the morning and look forward to your job,” she said. “I don’t see how people sit around all day.”
Dudczyk said she plans on working at Creative Dental for the rest of her life.