At age 101, West Chester woman who sews continues work at Jo-Ann Fabric

Jayne Burns has had the same part time job as a fabric cutter for 26 years.

MASON — The co-workers of 101-year-old Jayne Burns say her positivity and energy are contagious.

“Jayne is my inspiration. She comes to work every day, so I have to come to work, too,” said Susan Hayes, manager of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores in Mason. “She stays busy, she comes in when we need her, and she even works on her days off, if we call. She’s a good worker, and she likes coming to work,” she said.

Burns has had the same part time job at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores as a fabric cutter for 26 years. She first heard about the job a few months after her husband, Dick passed away. Her daughter, Donna Burns, worked at the store part time and encouraged her to apply.

Burns, who has sewn most of her life, enjoys working with the staff and customers, and recommending new fabrics to shoppers.

“I’ve sewed all my life. I made my daughters’ clothes, and mine, and I also did a lot of upholstery,” said Jayne Burns.

During her shift, Burns cuts fabric. She makes remnants of pieces of fabric that are less than a yard. She also puts away the fabric and organizes thread when she’s not working with customers.

She said she receives a lot of questions about the different types of fabrics, and some of the customers are beginners. Right now, she said a lot of people are quilting, which they do by machine.

“We are also selling a lot of fleece for Christmas. People are making blankets,” said Burns.

While she’s never counted the number of daily customers, she waits on a lot of people each day. Many of them recognize her for being “famous.”

Burns has been awarded multiple Jo-Ann Fabric “Cut Above” customer service awards for going above and beyond for customers. She said associates have to get ten of the silver awards before they receive a gold pin. She regularly wears three gold pins on her apron.

One customer recognized Jayne for the level of service she provided:

“Jayne went out of her way to help me find just what I needed. Thank you,” the customer wrote.

The note was turned in to store management and Jayne was honored for her outstanding customer service.

Susan Bardes, another manager at Jo-Ann Fabric said she admires Jayne’s “knowledge, helpfulness and cheerfulness.”

“Everybody loves talking to her,” Bardes said. “Most of our regulars know her by name.”

Also, Jayne always looks amazing. She comes to work dressed in business attire and with perfect makeup.

“I’ve always tried to dress nicely. I don’t go out without my hair fixed and my makeup on. I do my own makeup,” she said.

Burns never formally retired from her full-time bookkeeping job, which she excelled at and held most of her career prior to joining Jo-Ann.

“I worked at the Evendale location for 18 years prior to coming to Mason,” Burns recalled. “I’ve worked almost all my life. Mostly, I was a bookkeeper.”

Burns said there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” to cut fabric.

The only day she takes off work is on Thursdays to visit the beauty salon and go shopping. Her daughter, Darla Sterling also lives close by, and they usually go to the store together. Her son, Daryl and his wife live in California. Her stepdaughter, Dixie Burgess, lives in Texas.

Jo-Ann Fabrics threw a big party for Jayne on her 100th birthday. They picked her up at home in a limousine and put out a red carpet for her. Store representatives have told her she can work as long as she wants to.

“I knew they would have a party for me, but nothing like that,” she said. “It was on my birthday. They had the works, and they really went all out.”

Other than osteoarthritis in her knees, Burns keeps an active schedule between work, shopping and other social activities.

She and her husband lived in Florida for 18 years. She came back to Ohio to be close to family after he passed away. When she lived in Florida, Jayne liked to exercise, go to the pool and go ballroom and tap dancing. She also sang in the choir and played handbells at church.

Burns, who lives with Donna in West Chester Twp., gets up early every day and enjoys a cup of coffee before driving 20 minutes to work. Typically, she works an average of 20 to 30 hours per week, up to five days a week. She’s also willing to help out and work extra hours as needed. Her schedule at the store changes from week to week.

The centenarian has three grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. Burns was born in 1922 and will turn 102 on July 26. Jayne grew up in Reading, Ohio and graduated from Reading High School in 1940. She and Dick were married nearly 50 years, prior to his passing in 1994.

Jayne’s advice

As far her secret to a long, happy life, 101-year old Jane Burns says to “keep moving and don’t sit around too much.”

Being around other people is another thing that keeps her going: “I enjoy talking with my co-workers and meeting customers. It’s a wonderful group of people.”

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