21, No. 10, Nov. 15, 2001
On the Job: Emma
By Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
(217) 244-1072; email@example.com
by Bill Wiegand
Jean Mahoney liked her first job so much she has never left
it. On Nov. 13, Mahoney, dubbed "The Database Queen"
by her co-workers, celebrated her 40-year anniversary with
the university and the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Emma Jean Mahoney
liked her first job so much she has never left it. On Nov. 13, Mahoney,
dubbed "The Database Queen" by her co-workers, celebrated
her 40-year anniversary with the university and the Institute of Labor
and Industrial Relations. Mahoney has spent all 40 years at ILIR and
said she has no plans for retiring anytime soon. For at least 30 years
of her four decades with the university, Mahoney has made the 80-mile
roundtrip commute from Danville each day.
However, Mahoneys ties with the university extend even further
back than her hire date would suggest. As a child, Mahoney attended
a program for hearing-impaired children on the UI campus where she underwent
In 1961, Mahoney graduated from Illinois Commercial College, Champaign,
with an associates degree in general business administration.
A former Champaign High School classmate, whose sister worked for ILIR,
encouraged her to apply for a job there. Mahoney was hired and began
her career processing the mail in the institutes library. Six
months later, she accepted a job in the clerical pool, where shes
been ever since.
Now a secretary
III, Mahoney has a variety of responsibilities, including sending out
mass mailings and maintaining student and faculty mailboxes at the institute.
Mahoney also processes incoming student applications and handles thank-you
letters sent to donors. She also provides backup for preparing the institutes
daily news bulletin and posts it on the Web to keep students, alumni
and faculty members abreast of events at ILIR.
The Database Queen
However, it was her remarkable mastery of the various databases she
maintains that earned her "The Database Queen" moniker. Mahoney
manages databases of ILIR faculty and staff members, students, and prospective
students and alumni that provide the information for various departmental
lists she generates.
Mahoneys ability to learn new programs as well as the wealth of
knowledge she has gained during her 40 years with ILIR have earned her
the respect and admiration of her co-workers.
"Shes got so much information in her head," said Glenda
Slack, Mahoneys supervisor. "Nobodys ever going to
be able to replace that. She figures out how to do all the queries when
we want a specific thing from the databases. The remarkable part is
she knows how to do all those things."
Slack characterized Mahoney as "a very special work-mate,"
citing her cooperative spirit and flexibility as well as Mahoneys
willingness to assist others in meeting their deadlines. Mahoneys
thirst to expand her repertoire of computer skills in addition to her
willingness to share her expertise with those around her has endeared
Mahoney to her co-workers.
Computer work is her favorite aspect of her job, Mahoney said. However,
it also presents her with her greatest challenges when she must figure
out how to accomplish a task she has never done before.
Mahoney acquired her first electric typewriter when a co-worker, frustrated
with the unfamiliar technology, offered to swap her electric typewriter
for Mahoneys manual typewriter. Mahoney has taken in stride the
many advances in technology she has experienced over the years, mastering
each new program and upgrade as it came along.
When asked why she has stayed so long in one job, Mahoneys answer
was matter of fact: "I just started working and jumped in and did
it. Everybodys nice to me," she said. The benefits were an
incentive too, she added.
In honor of her 40-year anniversary at ILIR, Mahoneys co-workers
hosted a luncheon with all her favorites gracing the menu: chicken,
potatoes, peas, rolls and apple pie. A number of former ILIR staff members
and Mahoneys sister, Mary Robeck, joined in honoring her.
Family and fun
Off the job, Mahoney enjoys bowling and has a 145 average. In 1986,
she and her teammates went to Las Vegas to play in a national womens
Mahoney also indulges her sporting spirit by playing bingo and wagering
on horse races at the Danville off-track betting parlor.
Mahoney enjoys traveling, especially long, leisurely trips to visit
her two nieces and four nephews who are scattered throughout the states.
Last summer, Mahoney drove to Albuquerque, N.M., to visit a nephew and
his newborn triplets; she has also driven to Florida, Georgia, Indiana,
Kentucky and Michigan.
However, nowadays Mahoney said she has little time for bowling or other
pursuits because she shares caregiving duties for her 93-year-old mother.
Mahoneys retired sister cares for their mother during the day
and Mahoney takes over in the evenings, doing the cooking and the housework.