The ever-smiling and always-friendly Frank Shockley has spent more than half of his life working for the city of Ocean Springs and the 81-year-old has no plans of quitting anytime soon.
“I started working when I was 13 and I just really can’t stand not to work,” Shockley said. “I was 13 years old and sweeping up in a store. I haven’t stopped since and I’m not even sure when I will stop.”
Ocean Springs Mayor Kenny Holloway and the Board of Aldermen honored Shockley on July 5 for his 47 years of service and dedication to the city and its residents.
“It was real nice to be recognized,” Shockley said.
Shockley works every day out in the heat and humidity as a street laborer for the City of Discovery and is often spotted trimming tree limbs and cleaning up Front Beach. The father of eight always has a minute or two for chatting with anyone passing by and in need of a friendly ear.
“I enjoy talking with people,” he said.” I feel like this is something that people should always take time to do, just talk to each other. Then, you realize other people are just like you and you are just like them. No one is any better than anyone else, so you have to take time to speak to each other.”
He added that some days after work ends, he will return to an area where he met someone to continue their conversation and just make sure that person is doing all right.
“We really need to take more time to just check on each other,” Shockley said. “I’ve never hated anyone. I just dislike the way sometimes people can hate on one another, and I don’t like people that get around children or ladies or old people and say and do things they shouldn’t so I’m always going to speak up.”
Shockley began working in the Ocean Springs Public Works Department in 1976, and for the past few decades, he’s watched the city grow and change right before his eyes. He raised a family with his wife, four girls, and four boys, the youngest is now 51.
The great-great-grandfather landed in Ocean Springs by way of Ohio and then Alabama. He and his wife came to live and raise their children in the Magnolia State in the mid-70s. Shockley, whose original trade was plumbing, followed a job trail that led him to the Gulf Coast and eventually to the public works department. He spent more than 20 years in the water and sewer unit before branching out to the street department.
“There weren’t many choices back then for long-term work,” he said. “It was either one of the cities or the paper mill.”
And he’s learned a few tricks over the years to make his day enjoyable, including always wearing long sleeves to protect his skin from the harsh weather conditions, drinking lots of fluids, and remembering to always smile at people.
“I just really do enjoy working,” he said, adding he ends every conversation he has through the day with “You have a wonderful, blessed day.”