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McDonald's Employee With Down Syndrome Retires After 32 Years

After 32 years on the job at McDonald's, Russell O'Grady is retiring. O'Grady, who has Down syndrome, first started working at the Sydney West branch in Australia in 1986.

His Loss At the Restaurant Will Be Felt

His supervisors say they're already missing him. Ladbible says Courtney Purcell, O'Grady's supervisor, is an 'icon' and the 'best-known person in Northmead'. "We've got regular customers who come in to see Russell on Thursday and Friday, and the staff look after him, so we're going to miss him," she says.

O'Grady Made A Strong Impact On the Industry

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Ladbible writes that O'Grady first started working in the mid-'80s, when those with Down Syndrome were not common in the workplace. And O'Grady's dad, Geoff, recalls when someone asked Russell whether he was handicapped, to which Russell replied: "I used to be when I went to school, but now I work at McDonald's."

Local Celebrity

Geoff says his son is so popular in their town that he often gets stopped on the street by McDonald's customers wanting to shake his hand.

"He's very affectionate, dearly loved and appreciated, to such an extent that we just don't believe it."

Working His Way Up

Russell first got his job through an organization in Australia called Jobsupport, which helps place people with intellectual disabilities in jobs. He eventually moved his way up the ranks until he landed a full-time position with the store packing party boxes.


Russell still loves working at McDonald's but made the decision to retire due to health concerns. Russell is now 50, but the people with Down Syndrome are now regularly living into their 60s and even 70s. So he has plenty of time to enjoy his well-earned retirement.

Another McDonald's Milestone


Last year, a different McDonald's store celebrated one of its most beloved employees. The restaurant celebrated 94-year-old Loraine Maurer for her 44 years of service. She says she eats McDonald's every single day, and her favorite meal is the fish sandwich.

'It's Not a Job'

Maurer says she has no plans of retiring anytime soon. She works two shifts a week and loves every minute of it.

"I would miss it too much," she said. "I don't want to get depressed and it's not that I don't look forward to going to work. ... It's not a job.

"I really and truly enjoy it. Life is what you make it. And so I'm trying."

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