Temple man retiring after 50 years at HEB

Paul Smith, who started at HEB in Temple in January 1967, is ready to retire.

TEMPLE, Texas -- For folks who bagged groceries in their teen years, those beeps of the scanners area familiar sound.

But for one man, the grocery store has been a part of his life longer than his own wife.

After graduating from Temple High School, Paul Smith walked to the nearby HEB looking for a job.  He started that same afternoon, bagging groceries.

Two weeks later, he got the first of several promotions, eventually becoming a manager years later.  During his half century of serving customers, Smith said he tried to connect with them.

"I like to read the paper, like the weddings and stuff like that," Smith said.  "If their kids play football for the Wildcats or another team, you know, I have something to talk to them about that means something to them."

Elias "ET" Ferris has worked with Smith for the past two years.

"There's no customers he doesn't know," Ferris said.  "It's a great resource to the top manager to have someone like Paul working in this store."

Paul's regulars say they're sad to see him walk out those sliding glass doors at the store.

"Paul is not just a person," Bobby & Betty Malovets said.  "He's like a brother to some."

For many, Paul was more than an employee.  He was their friend.

"I'm going to cry," Kenny Ward said.  "When I don't see him in this store, I'll cry about it again because he's awesome."

Paul Smith wasn't just filling bags.

He was filling hearts.


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