A surprise party was thrown Friday morning to recognize a worker of more than 30 years at the McDonald’s in Napoleon.

Todd Rothenberger has worked at the restaurant for nearly 31 years with the assistance of the Henry County Department of Developmental Disabilities Supported Employment Service.

“Thank you for coming today,” Rothenberger said as he looked around the restaurant, spotting family and friends and and greeting them with hugs. “This is great.”

Rothenberger said his 30 years at the restaurant has passed quickly and he plans to keep working.

“French fries and be happy,” Rothenberger said of his job duties. “Say ‘Hi’ and ‘Have a nice day.’”

Jim Rivello, owner of the McDonald’s in Napoleon, presented Rothenberger with a 30-year pin, a watch and a crystal figurine in the shape of a box of French fries — the station at which Rothenberger works, as well as a cake.

“He always has a smile on his face,” Rivello said, adding Rothenberger greets customers by name and gets to know them. “He’s excited to come to work.”

Rivello noted he now owns eight restaurants, which means he’s not at the Napoleon McDonald’s as often as he used to be.

“He hasn’t seen me in awhile and a couple of weeks ago ... he sends us a picture of him and says, ‘I’m working today, come out and see me,’” Rivello said with a laugh. “He just makes your day when he’s here.”

Henry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Joel Miller presented a certificate of appreciation to Rothenberger, who also received his own Liberty Center Tigers football jersey. Rothenberger is a big supporter of Liberty Center sports teams, and two of his nephews are seniors on the football team this year.

Kathy Wolf, Rothenberger’s mom, said they were able to keep the party a surprise from Rothenberger, who was supposed to have Friday off, but they requested him to come in and work.

“How many other places would do this?” she asked. “He loves it (here).”

Wolf noted the restaurant has always been cooperative with Rothenberger’s schedule, including taking winters off as the family spends time out west.

“When we go away for the winter, he gets bored. He misses people,” she added.

Wolf added the Supported Employment Service program has always been supportive as well, helping out if there’s ever been an issue.

Christine Schultz, CESP, job developer with Henry County Board of Developmental Disabilities, noted McDonald’s employs multiple individuals in the Supported Employment Service and has always been supportive of employees in the program.

“He loves his job,” Schultz said of Rothenberger. “He takes his job very seriously. He’s fun and social outside of work, but when he’s at work, he’s very focused.

“He’s just one-of-a-kind.”

E-mail comments to jenl@northwestsignal.net.

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