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Capitol Lunch Lady Loretta served a standing ovation by lawmakers

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 3:38 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It takes a lot of people to make the Capitol function how it does.

Lawmakers rely on pages, council staff, and each other to get their job done.

But in the cafeteria, there’s someone who keeps everyone fueled and in line.

And she’s been there longer than most of them.

At any cafeteria, you can expect the same thing. A salad bar, burgers sizzling on the griddle, and any treat you can think of.

Someone needs to watch over it all. That’s where Loretta Boehm comes in.

“Well I’m a person that’s… well there’s very little food I don’t like. So, anything’s good,” she said laughing.

Loretta started working at the Capitol Café as a teenager, but didn’t have a license to drive to the interview.

“I said I can’t make it up there in time. And the interviewer says ‘oh” well give me your address. I’ll come down and talk to you at your place at your apartment.’ So I said, ‘okay,’” Boehm said.

That interview was in 1969. The Capitol Café might be different, and so are the faces who eat there. But there’s one constant: Loretta.

“She knows that she’s really making a difference in people’s lives. And some people say it’s very simple what she’s doing. Yes, but it’s long lasting. And people will always remember Loretta,” Rep. Jason Dockter, R-Bismarck, said.

Every day, Capitol workers and lawmakers find Loretta at her post at the Café. But this time, they brought her to the House chamber for a surprise.

To honor her more than 50 years on the job, lawmakers from both chambers came together to celebrate her and greeted with a standing ovation.

“You’ve touched so many lives. I mean, everyone here will always have Loretta stories,” Dockter said during the ceremony on the floor of the House.

Even though she still doesn’t drive, she was presented with a custom license plate, along with cards and gifts totaling more than $4,000 for an eventual retirement.

“It felt wonderful,” Loretta said.

But that retirement isn’t coming any time soon.

Fifty years in the building is quite as accomplishment, but not the record.

The only other employee to serve in the Capitol building longer than Loretta is North Dakota Supreme Court Justice Gerald VandeWalle.

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