MOORHEAD — At the Main Avenue Hornbacher's in Moorhead, workers set out one of her favorites: cranberry orange bread. They say she could brag up the product like nobody else, and there was never any left to sell at the end of her shift.
For 20 years, Joyce Wright was known as "the sample lady" at the grocery chain's location on Main Avenue. She died Nov. 10 at the age of 95 and was still working part-time.
Now, the longtime face at the store is being remembered and celebrated by her coworkers, who say she had an outgoing personality.
"She was a friend to everyone — she knew everybody," said Jeff Bosak, who manages the Hornbacher's bakery in Moorhead. He and others at the store say there will never be another Joyce and that she has strong ties to the store.
"I think we were Joyce's extended family," Bosak explained. "She lived alone for many years, and she would often come to our house during holidays."
At 95, Wright was still handing out samples a few days a week at the store — something her coworkers say she excelled at.
"Whatever Jeff put out for her to sample, she would sell it out," said Hornbacher’s President Matt Leiseth. "There was no messing around, she sampled the product, told everyone how great it was and then she headed home for the day."
Leiseth knew Joyce when he was starting out at the store, and said the community thought a lot of her.
"People would come in on sampling days to just see Joyce," he remembered.
Hornbacher's employees also cared quite a bit for Wright. They often picked her up and took her to the store and invited her over during the holidays, since she had no family in the area.
One thing she didn't like to talk about a lot was her age, Leiseth said.
"The last time we celebrated her birthday party, she was not really pleased," he said. "But we just wanted to show our appreciation and the fun we had with her every year she was with us."
Wright was no stick in the mud — her friends say she still got out and about, which is why her celebration of life party will be held Tuesday at one of her favorite spots: Vic's Lounge at the Moorhead Center Mall.
The memorial service celebrating Joyce's life starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Organizers say it runs until 7 p.m. — or whenever the Joyce stories stop.