McDonald’s ‘Employee of the Year’ Award Went to an 89-Year-Old and It Is SO Wholesome

We're proud of you, Hugh!

Sometimes—and by “sometimes,” we mean “a lot of the time”—the news cycle can be pretty draining. It’s on days like this that we need some uplifting updates, or a headline to make us smile and restore our faith in the world.

Thankfully, one McDonald’s has given us just the cheery news we needed. The location awarded its McDonald’s Employee of the Year honors to 89-year-old Hugh Ruppert, and honestly, our hearts are so full.

Who’s Hugh Ruppert?

Hugh works at a McDonald’s in Piqua, Ohio. He’s been there for about a year. Hugh had a full career before arriving at McD’s: he worked in maintenance, and then retired from a welding shop after 24 years.

He wanted to get back into the workforce—but it wasn’t easy. Hugh told WHIO news that many places hung up on him when he told them how old he was. Ugh, I think we can all agree Hugh deserves so much better than that. Fortunately, McDonald’s extended him an offer.

In a way, the Employee of the Year award was Hugh’s birthday present. He turned 89 on March 4. Of course, it wasn’t the only present he received. Hugh told WHIO—which has a gallery of photos from his birthday celebration, if you want to smile even wider today—that people he’d never met were coming in to give him balloons, cards and flowers.

hugh rupurt 89th birthday cake mcdonalds 1200x800courtesy James Rider/WHIO

This is what McDonald’s employees like Hugh want you to know.

What Made Hugh Want to Keep Working?

Hugh told WHIO news that he didn’t want to just sit around in a rocking chair, and that he wants to keep working until he’s 100. (Oh, and he still lifts weights at home, so take that, mean folks who hung up on him.)

I think we can speak for McDonald’s, and literally everyone he’s helped, and everyone who’s been cheered up or inspired by this news, when we say thank you, Hugh!

Psst… If this has motivated you to head to your local McDonald’s, considering ordering these secret menu items.

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Emily Hannemann
Emily adores both food and writing, so combining those passions as a writer for Taste of Home makes perfect sense. Her work has also appeared in Birds & Blooms and on TV Insider. When she’s not eating peanut butter straight from the jar, you'll find her running or birdwatching. Emily is currently a journalism graduate student at the University of Missouri.