Not many CBC donors would recognize Mary Lou Hoendorf but they would surely know her voice. She served CBC for 15 years as a Customer Relationship Representative. With her passing on Monday, March 20 at the age of 85 CBC has truly lost a friend and family member.
Mary Lou was a caller who worked the phones in the Donor Relations call center. She cheerfully but determinedly reached out to donors, reminding them about appointments, their eligibility to donate, and to ultimately ask them to give.
“Think you could come down and help us out?” was her signature request. How could anyone say no to that kind grandmother with the gravel voice?
Like many of her colleagues in the CRR call center, Mary Lou worked part-time hours, usually in the evening when donors are home and may answer the phone. She didn’t describe herself as “retired” or even partly retired, even though it was a status she had clearly earned.
She and her husband Jack raised a big Catholic family in Dayton. He was the main bread-winner, working tough, blue-collar labor, while she took care of the kids and took on equally tough, odd-hour part-time jobs to help make ends meet.
For 27 years she rose in the middle of the night to drive her routes delivering the morning papers for the Dayton Daily News. She had many tales of snow storms and icy roads, but she never neglected her appointed rounds.
She was a short, fireplug of a woman, and her toughness was hard-earned. Her most interesting tale was about her years on the rink as roller derby girl. It was an inspiration to imagine her in those days: a young woman in her prime, claiming her place in a rough-and-tumble sports, gliding fast, furious and free.
This is a remembrance from when she celebrated her 80th birthday on the job at CBC in 2011:
Mary Lou Hoendorf is happy working at her desk in the Donor Relations call center, chatting with blood donors, scheduling their appointments and reminding them how much they mean to CBC and everyone in need of the gift of life. In fact, she thinks it’s a perfect way to spend her 80th birthday!
“My son says, ‘Mom’s doing what she likes best – talking on the phone!’” laughs Mary Lou. “I just like being around people.”
Of course her four children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren wouldn’t let this milestone go unnoticed. She turned 80 today (Aug. 26, 2011) but the celebration started a couple of Sundays ago. Her son said he was taking her to a Reds game, and surprised her with a champagne brunch cruise on the Ohio River with a bunch of family members. This coming Sunday she will be the guest of honor when the whole family gathers for a birthday dinner at her son’s home in Springfield.
Mary Lou says her boys grew up working the same job mom loved… delivering the Dayton Daily News. She did that for 27 years until, believe it or not, she started thinking about doing something a little less grinding than those daily 1:30 am paper pick-ups in Franklin. Her friend Paulette Jeckering told her about an opening at CBC, she was quickly hired, and started a new career at the spry age of 68.
It’s obvious that Mary Lou likes to stay busy. Her husband Jack passed away 19 years ago. After 11-plus years she remains dedicated to her job, missing work only for knee replacement surgery. And she likes having extra money to spend on her grandkids. Since they all live nearby, she gets to watch them grow-up, which she would admit, is actually better than talking on the phone!
Mary Lou loved her grandchildren, and was their biggest fan, always attending their basketball and soccer games. But health problems began to slow her down. She missed games, and eventually had to miss work. The decision to retire for good was painful. Her visits with old friends at CBC always ended with tears.
After so many miles… running, rolling, driving, delivering, child-raising, calling and life-saving… it’s Mary Lou’s time to rest. The Lord has looked down and said, “Mary Lou, think you come up here and help us out?” She would never refuse.