Betty Kouns isn’t sure what she will do with herself when she clocks out for the last time today after 43 years working at Crisp’s Dairy Treat.
“People have been asking me that,” Kouns said, shaking her head slightly. “I will enjoy not getting up early, but it will be sad to not get to talk to people and follow my routine of 43 years. My husband says I have to learn not to be the boss at home!”
Kouns, 62, started working for the Crisp family in 1970 and is retiring as manager at Crisp’s Dairy Treat. Born and raised in Boyd County, Kouns said she left high school to get a job and help support their family.
“I was married and just had a baby and needed a job,” she said, explaining she applied for a job at Crisp’s in 1970 when their first daughter was three months old. “It always took two people working in the family just to make it.”
Work at the restaurant isn’t easy, she said, although she can’t think of any aspect of the job she does not love.
“This is a very hard job, but I’d say through the years I’ve tempered myself to it,” she said, describing her various duties ranging from working in the kitchen to ordering supplies and dealing with sales representatives. “I love talking to customers and sales reps. We’ve all become friends.”
With a chuckle, Kouns said “I could probably tell you things about this place Raymond (Crisp) doesn’t know.”
Her co-workers at Crisp’s have become dear to her, she said.
“We’re like a family. If one cries the others want to cry. It’s just like a second family,” she said, later noting several members of the staff through the years were her actual relatives.
“All of my sisters have worked here. Most of my nieces have worked here and both my daughters have worked here,” she said, later adding her grandsons, Garrett and Jason, work there now.
While she enjoys her work, Kouns said she is physically ready to leave her career behind.
“If this part felt like this part, I would be fine,” she said, pointing to her body before gesturing toward her heart and mind. In addition to suffering from fibromyalgia, which she initially noticed the symptoms of when her husband would gently touch her shoulder during church, Kouns said her knees can no longer handle the stress of standing and walking on a concrete floors for many hours each day.
“Both of my knees are just bone on bone,” she said, noting she will soon be consulting with a surgeon to make arrangements for knee replacement. If the surgery and her recovery goes well, Kouns said she may consider coming back to work part-time at Crisp’s.
The longtime restaurant manager said she was honored by her employers and co-workers last week when they closed the restaurant after a half day and met up across the road at Armco Park for a retirement party which included a water fight along with the goodbyes and well wishes.
Kouns and her husband, Gerald, have two daughters, Beverly Arnett and Melissa Brown, and a son, Tim Kouns. She and her husband are members of Straight Creek Nazarene Church. If she has any post-retirement goals, Kouns said her plans will be family oriented.
“I want to just spend the rest of the time with my husband and family. He’s been on the back burner for years,” she concluded. “He says I’ve devoted my life to this place.”
TIM PRESTON can be reached at