The sunlight poured in by the windows at the Linwood Offer Keep on June 18, its rays bouncing off glass bottles lining the shelves.
A group of loved ones users and pals gathered in the shop – smiling, laughing, chatting and having pictures with Imogene Naifeh, operator of the store.
They had been celebrating her 95th birthday.
The crowd made its way to the front of the home, around the register wherever Naifeh has rung up product sales of whiskey, bourbon, beer and wine for far more than 50 many years. Then they hugged the white-haired family members matriarch.
“Thank you so considerably, thank you,” she tells them. “God bless you.”
Couple of folks arrived at the retailer around downtown Oklahoma City that Friday early morning to obtain liquor. Instead, they came to pour out their hearts for Imogene.
“She’s cherished by everyone,” explained granddaughter Corie Naifeh, 20. “Everyone she’s ever satisfied just adores her. She’s so form and caring and sweet. ‘God bless you, Honey’ – that’s her phrase.
“I hope a person working day I’m just like her.”
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‘She worked generally just about every day’
Imogene was born June 18, 1926, in Depew, the place she went to school during her early several years. Her family moved to Oklahoma Town when she was heading into the 7th quality.
Naifeh’s brothers opened the American Sweet Co. in 1945. In 1954, it grew to become the American Mutual Co. division shop. When her brothers ran the retail outlet, Imogene labored in the shoe department at John A. Brown, a further office retail store.
She married her spouse, Richard Naifeh, in 1959. He’d been in the insurance coverage organization, but right after Oklahoma repealed prohibition, the few wanted to try a thing new. So in 1968, they procured the liquor shop.
“It was the starting of liquor then,” Imogene Naifeh said. “Excellent Lord, that was a large amount of decades back.”
Richard Naifeh died soon after an sickness in 1974. And Imogene, with two young kids to care for, held the retail store open up.
“She worked just about every working day, essentially,” mentioned her son, Rick Naifeh. “She would be below from morning right up until 10, when the retail store closed, so she’d get dwelling at 10:30 at night time. It was some long times, but she worked it.”
She’s hardly skipped a working day of do the job. She reported she had only missed a few times of get the job done in extra than 50 a long time just before acquiring to acquire some time absent for the coronavirus pandemic. One of these days was for Richard’s funeral.
Throughout the pandemic, the keep was closed for three weeks. To her, that was far too substantially.
“She reported, ‘I’m not sitting down in this property by myself and dying on your own. I’m going again to get the job done,’” Rick Naifeh claimed. “She’s been below each working day considering the fact that.”
“I appreciate doing work,” Imogene said. “It’s a genuine great sensation. Acquiring up each morning is a blessing. And you dress and you get going, and it keeps that mind working.”
She enjoys viewing people – often return prospects – and chatting with them.
“They develop into element of you,” she explained of her customers. “You see them just about every working day, and you miss out on them when they disappear for a though.”
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Naifeh at times passes out sandwiches to homeless prospects who recurrent the retail outlet.
“There was a person named Steve who came in, and he only experienced $3 or $4 in his pocket, and he needed to get a bottle. But he was hungry,” Rick Naifeh explained. “So she allowed him to acquire the bottle, but then she manufactured him a sandwich.”
“You’ve received to keep in mind, some of them have a trouble,” Imogene Naifeh reported. “You do feel for them.”
Imogene’s spouse and children associates respect her for this purpose. Even even though she’s a diminutive determine – scarcely higher than four feet tall – they say she has a much larger-than-daily life temperament.
And they say they appear up to her, even though their eyes may be pointed downward.
“She is remarkable, and she has much more drive than anyone I have at any time fulfilled,” Corie Naifeh said. “She will get up earlier than anybody I know, and she’s just the toughest employee. It’s unreal viewing her.”
‘It’s portion of my life’
Imogene has lived in Oklahoma for most of her 95 decades, and she’s a longtime member of the St. Elijah Orthodox Christian Church.
“It’s part of my lifestyle,” she stated.
So is the church’s pastor – the Rev. John Salem – who arrived to the liquor retail store to pray about Imogene and guide the group in singing “God Grant You Several Decades.”
“Life is precious, and she definitely requires just about every day – every single day – to its fullest,” Salem said. “She checks in on most people, and all people in the group checks on her. She’s there for every person. No matter what she’s obtained, she paid out ahead numerous times.”
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Retaining it in the spouse and children
Corie Naifeh stated she ideas to buy her 1st consume from her grandmother when the time arrives, but she’s not yet absolutely sure what she’ll pick.
“I assume she’ll point me in the right direction,” Corie Naifeh said. “She is familiar with a lot about it.”
Or does she?
“Me? I really don’t consume at all,” Imogene Naifeh mentioned. “I don’t treatment for it. Oh, no. My son would like to see me consume a minimal purple wine, but I really don’t even do that. I provide it, but I really do not drink it.”
Her son contends that, a single New Year’s Eve, the loved ones experienced some bubbly alcoholic beverages with Imogene. But that was decades ago.
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So what happens when people ask for consume suggestions?
“I place on a superior present,” Imogene Naifeh said. “I act like I know, but I really don’t. They talk to me about the wines, I’ll appear up with an respond to. I hope it’s ideal.”
She nevertheless receives up and goes to operate in the mornings – only soon after she completes her morning routine, that is.
She says that is the vital to a lengthy and satisfied life.
“God’s been superior to me,” she reported. “Every day is a blessing. For each doorway that closes, God opens a person. I’m blessed. Each and every early morning, I thank God for a further working day.”