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79-Year-Old Cook Has Stayed on Job Since 1956

Never sick, he perfected omelet-making for Marriott

Cecil Exum

Courtesy Skydive BuzzAstrid Riecken/Getty Images

Cecil Exum never set out to become living embodiment of the Marriott Corp.’s history. It just worked out that way.

The nearly 80-year-old cook at the Crystal City Marriott in Arlington, Va., has been working for Marriott since 1956, when he was 19 and the company consisted of a couple of root beer stands known as Hot Shoppes. And then, because he is a creature of routine and because, unlike most corporations these days, Marriott has no mandatory retirement age policies, Exum just stayed — graduating over the years from dishwasher to soda jerk to his current position as the creator of some of the best breakfast omelets ever made.

The only person who can approach his longevity is J.W. “Bill” Marriott, who also started at the company in 1956. But Marriott retired as CEO a few years ago. Exum is still on the job, although he admits these days he is starting to think about retirement — especially when his arthritic knee hurts.

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Even so, “pretty soon, I’m making eggs, I’m socializing, and I realize my pain has gone away,” he told the Washington Post.

Over the years, as the root beer stand grew into a global hotel company with $17 billion in annual revenue, Cecil has never called in sick. Day after day, he shows up — a living link to the company’s humble beginnings.

“We are so proud that Cecil is part of the Marriott family,” Marriott said. “And I can testify he makes wonderful omelets.”

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