Sharon Wilhelm started working as a server in a restaurant at age 21. At age 65, she's still going strong, and enjoys her work so much that she hopes to continue with it for as long as she is able. Currently, she is a server at Sevens Bar & Restaurant in Minot.
"I have no interest in working anywhere else. When I get home, I can't wait to get up and get to work again. If I could, I'd work seven days a week," Wilhelm said.
"I love being around the people, and the older I get, the more I like it. I don't want to retire if I can help it," she added.
Katina Tengesdal/MDN •
Sharon Wilhelm, longtime server, stands near a table display in the fine dining area of Sevens Bar & Restaurant where she works.
Wilhelm believes that serving, for her, has been a definite calling in her life. She first felt that it was something she'd like to do when she was 10.
"As a girl, I went to my great aunt's place in Minnesota. She had a gas station and a little coffee restaurant. She let me put gas in a car, and get the customers some coffee and donuts. I'll never forget it. I loved it, and I knew right then that that's what I wanted to do," Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm started serving for special occasions at the Elks Club when she was 21. From there, she went on to be a hostess and a server in the restaurant. After her third child was born, she took a 10-year hiatus before returning to serving. At that time, she began work again at the Embassy and continued on at Sevens.
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Over the years, serving has changed a bit, but Wilhelm was determined to keep up with the changes.
"I used to write tickets and bring them back to the kitchen, and now we have a computer that sends the orders back. When they first started with the computers, I was so nervous. I thought I couldn't do it," Wilhelm said.
"I would try to work on it, and it just made me feel like I couldn't breathe. But I kept going to work, and it kept getting better and better," she added.
Wilhelm has also experienced many rewarding events over the course of her career, including receiving two Minot Area Chamber of Commerce awards and getting the chance to wait on some celebrities.
"Waiting on celebrities was special for me. When the Hstfest and the fair has been in town, I've gotten the chance to wait on Leann Rimes, Don Knox, Tim Conway, George Burns, and others, too. Everybody was just so friendly," she said.
She credits her customers, her current boss and her co-workers for making her work place a good place to be. The staff at Sevens affectionately call her "grandma" and are willing to look out for her.
"It's just like my second family here, all these kids make me feel young. I'm still learning something new every day. The people that work here are just special to me," Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm's love of serving doesn't stop with her work, as she enjoys serving her family, friends and neighbors as well.
"I love entertaining at home. I decorate for Halloween and for Christmas, and I just love decorating and entertaining. I love feeding people, too," Wilhelm said.
She has enjoyed her years of work, and encourages others to put their efforts into doing what they love.
"I know that this is my calling right here. If you know what you want to do, put your whole effort into it," Wilhelm said.