By Julie Plante

“I know many customers by the beer they drink,” said Kelly Morse as we stood outside the Port Union Beer Store. “Oh, here comes 24 Heineken.”

Living in our community her entire life, Kelly retired in June after a 42-year career with the Beer Store, starting off as part time for the first five years. She spent time at school for law enforcement and also studied to be a dental assistant.

Coincidentally, Kelly was offered a job from the dentist upon graduation the very same day the Beer Store offered her a full-time position. Lucky for us, it was a no-brainer for Kelly and her journey at the Beer Store began.

One of her most memorable accomplishments was being the first woman hired in Toronto by Brewers Retail. In 1985, Brewers Retail began the process of rebranding as The Beer Store, a term that was commonly used by consumers to describe the store.

Kelly’s bubbly personality and caring for others is infectious. It’s not surprising that when her retirement was mentioned on the West Rouge Residents Facebook page there were over 260 reactions and more than 90 comments.

She is very social and was invited by her customers to many community events and gatherings, such as anniversaries and backyard parties. Many customers also invited her to share a beer or two with them over the years. The irony being that Kelly isn’t a beer drinker. Red wine is her libation of choice.

When Kelly is out and about in the neighbourhood, often in her beloved 1996 red Mustang convertible named Sally, many customers stop to say “Hello” and keep her updated on events going on in their lives.

She is often greeted as “The Beer Lady” by those who are not aware of her name. This suits Kelly fine, which is a testament to her easy-going and accepting personality.

The Beer Store is a family affair for Kelly. Her husband, now retired as well, was also a Beer Store employee and this was where they met. To this day, Kelly’s two daughters, Brynne and Devan, work part time at the Port Union Beer Store.

As vice-president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Canada (UFCW), Kelly was instrumental in the success of the provincial annual bottle drive for leukemia – “Returns for Leukemia.”

This event took place the first weekend after the May 24 weekend and over the years raised much-needed funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. Our store raised between $1,500 to $2,500 and provincially over $1 million. Along with the fundraising, Kelly helped many pupils from Mowat get their community hours in during this weekend.

Kelly is loving retirement life. This summer she was busy with the wedding of her daughter Brynne and visiting family in Manitoba for another family wedding celebration for three weeks, as well as joining the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre to lane swim.

She is looking forward to taking sewing lessons in the future as she has a brand-new sewing machine that has been around for five years just waiting to be used.

While we miss Kelly at the Beer Store, we look forward to seeing her around the community!