May 3: The Longest-Serving Federal Worker
Lillie Steinhorn of Baltimore retired from the Social Security Administration on this date in 2000 after working there for 65 years — making her the longest-serving federal government worker in history. She began in 1935 as a card-puncher in the Bureau of Federal Old Age Benefits, and resisted demotion in the face of the wave of returning post-War veterans in the mid-1940s. Steinhorn, who died in 2009, never married and lived throughout her life with her parents, whom she cared for as they aged.
“I remember during the War years you had to watch the supplies we were using. We had to use our pencils until they came down to little stubs, then they took those pencils and sent them to the children in school. We had adding machines in those days and we had to use the tape on both sides, before we could get a new tape. You just did it, you didn’t think anything about it. One time they asked us to give up a day’s pay for the War effort. I wish those people in Congress today would realize what we Government people have done for this country, they don’t realize that, they have forgotten.” —Lillie Steinhorn