50-year MacLaren veteran to retire

It should have come as no surprise to MacLaren:Lintas President Marty Rothstein that the toughest part about arranging retirement plans for Audrey Wilson was getting her to actually retire.Wilson is finding it hard to break a 50-year habit.After five decades with...

It should have come as no surprise to MacLaren:Lintas President Marty Rothstein that the toughest part about arranging retirement plans for Audrey Wilson was getting her to actually retire.

Wilson is finding it hard to break a 50-year habit.

After five decades with the agency, latterly heading the payroll department, the woman who is described by her colleagues as the most caring and conscientious person they have ever known, is interested in at least doing some part-time work.

The idea of not working does not seem conceivable to her.

Achievement

Fifty years with any company is achievement in itself, but in the speedy advertising business, famous for revolving its people through spinning doors, half a century in one place is – except for Wilson – unthinkable.

She graduated from high school in North Toronto.

Her mother, who used to be the switchboard operator at Toronto ad agency Norris-Patterson, happened to meet someone from the Norris agency one day on Yonge Street and learned that an opening was coming up for relief switchboard and help in the mailroom.

She told her daughter about the job, and Wilson started in June 1941.

A year later, MacLaren Advertising, established in 1926 as the Canadian arm of Campbell-Ewald, bought the Norris agency and Wilson moved over to help on the switchboard there, eventually becoming switchboard supervisor.

She married her high school sweetheart after he returned from the war, but they had no children.

‘So I decided to make working my career,’ Wilson says.

In 1965 she moved to the payroll department and has been there ever since.

Special attention

It is perfectly in character for Wilson to seem almost surprised that her 50-year stint at MacLaren would warrant special attention, almost as though it should be the norm rather than the aberration.

She does not want to talk about herself, but instead talks about how great the agency has been to her.

She talks about the people. She remembers Jack MacLaren as a ‘wonderful, family-oriented, quiet man.

‘If he ever saw someone getting off on the MacLaren floor that he didn’t know, he would ask his secretary to find out who it was,’ Wilson says. ‘He spoke to everyone in the agency.’

Rothstein describes Wilson as ‘one of those people who is absolutely and totally devoted to the service of others.’