Virginia Webb is a mother of three grown children and a grandmother of four grandchildren. She also has two great-grandchildren. But rather than dote on them all, the 87-year-old likes to spend much of her time working full-time as a sterilization technician at Dr. Bill Wiggins’ general dentistry practice on South Hill.
For the past 24 years, Webb has hardly missed a day. She takes charge of sterilizing dental tools, doing inventory control, setting up and tearing down exam rooms, answering phones, assisting dental hygienists and greeting patients when they arrive for their appointments.
“I think people should work for as long as they have good health,” Webb said. “I have a great boss. I enjoy working here with everyone.”
Webb started working at Wiggins’ office on May 15, 1989. Wiggins needed a sterilization technician and was referred to Webb through a now-defunct program at Good Samaritan Hospital called Adult Day Health, which trained older people who were looking for work.
Webb’s husband, Ernie, died when she was 55. Until then, she had been a stay-at-home mom.
Suddenly, she was compelled to look for work. When Wiggins called, Webb took it wholeheartedly.
Webb admits there was a learning curve to the job.
But today, she comes in like clockwork and gets the job done.
“Virginia is a great worker,” Wiggins said. “She comes in every day on time. She is dependable and never sick.”
Except 18 years ago, when Webb was so ambitious she worked herself through a stroke and finished her hours before she went to a hospital to be treated. Besides the two weeks she was gone during her recovery, her colleagues attest she has never missed a day.
Wiggins remembers visiting Webb in the hospital, and she told him, with a pointed finger, “Don’t you give up my job!”
Sally Stoltenberg, a dental hygienist, was there in 1989 when Webb arrived. Stoltenberg has been at Wiggins’ office for 25 years.
“It’s been an awesome experience,” Stoltenberg said. “We’ve seen our kids grow up, our grandkids grow up, and our patients growing up and having kids.”
Wiggins said patients who come year after year love Webb. When they come for their appointment, they expect Webb to be there.
“A lot of patients have known her for a long time,” Wiggins said.
Most of all, Wiggins said Webb is a daily inspiration for his staff.
“We’re in our 50s, and we complain about being old,” Wiggins said. “And here we have someone with 30 years on us, and she doesn’t complain a bit.”
Webb is fully vested in the employee retirement plan and benefits package. She hasn’t drawn from it. It’s her nest egg, she said.
And she said she isn’t planning to retire any time soon.