54-Year Volunteer Honored at Hunter AAF

Mary Barton
Mary Barton

Imagine working somewhere for more than 50 years and never getting a paycheck. That's just what one volunteer does, with a smile on her face. Today she was recognized for not just her hard work, but her gracious heart.

One of Savannah's most dedicated volunteers, Mary Barton has been rolling up her sleeves at Hunter Army Airfield's Tuttle Health Clinic for more than half a century.

Can she believe it's been 54 years? "No, it doesn't seem like it's been ten," she told us. "Time passes fast when you do things you enjoy."

And Barton is not quitting anytime soon. We asked her if she ever thought about getting a job there instead of just volunteering through the Red Cross. "I don't have time to work," she said.

So far, Barton has volunteered at the pharmacy for 40 years. She started out volunteering teaching swimming safety classes and she's worn many other volunteer hats.

She has come to know and love so many of the people there, the staff and the patients. And today, Hunter her with the commander's award for volunteer service.

And the staff and the patients just love her. "Personally, I think she's a magnificent person, always smiling no matter what," said clinic nurse Michael Sutton. "No matter what turmoil, there's Mary smiling."

That's what the patients who have come to know her over the years admire most. "No matter how you are feeling, she can pick you up," said patient Sally Stubbs.

"Being in the clinic, you come in sick or hurt or disgruntled and to see a person smile at you, it's contagious, even if you are down and out and in pain, you are going to smile," said Sutton.

A big smile and a big heart: the perfect combination for a great volunteer.

Barton says she got her start volunteering at Parris Island while her husband was in the Marine Corps.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com