SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Governor Gavin Newsom recognized a 98-year-old state employee who’s been working in the Department of General Services since 1943.
She may not have the most high profile or glamorous job, but to May Lee, working for the state of California is as serious as an audit.
“We call her our four-foot historian… our historical department,” said her co-worker Carol Weathers.
At 98, Lee is the oldest and longest-serving state employee in California history. It’s a title she earned working in her department for 76 years.
“I enjoy people. And lots of the employees are very nice to me,” Lee said.
Being an accountant comes with an abundance of responsibility and often times, the absence of appreciation for making sure everything adds up.
“She can go and she can recollect which assembly bills something was created on, so we’ll go back and do our research and check that bill. She’ll remember the author, and…,” said her co-worker Sheryl Raney.
Lee admits shifting from mechanical calculators to spreadsheets has presented its fair share of challenges over the years. Even now, as a retired annuitant, she still prefers to do things the old fashioned way.
“I still turn to my manual pencil and paper and do my calculations,” Lee said.
Those long-hand calculations have made a big difference in California. Over the years, her co-workers say she’s identified $53 million in accounting errors.
It’s a skill Governor Gavin Newsom was eager to keep on board. He asked Lee is she planned on retiring any time soon Wednesday.
“No! I’m going to work as long as I can,” Lee said.
The Marvelous May, a woman with a servants heart, is now recognized as a state treasure.
Lee said her philosophy is to have a positive attitude, strive to mentor others, and eat lots of vegetables.