Oldest employee of McDonald's Singapore dies aged 90

Madam Goh Gwek Eng, who has worked for McDonald's for close to 20 years, died on Jan 22 from stomach cancer.
Madam Goh Gwek Eng, who has worked for McDonald's for close to 20 years, died on Jan 22 from stomach cancer.PHOTOS: LIANHE WANBAO/ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 90-year-old woman who was the oldest employee of McDonald's Singapore has died.

Madam Goh Gwek Eng died on Monday (Jan 22), her son told Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Wanbao in a report on Tuesday (Jan 23).

Mr Tan Pok Yong, a 71-year-old retiree, told Wanbao that his mother had grown frail in recent years.

She cut down her workload, reducing the number of days she worked from five days a week to just working on weekends for three hours at a stretch.

In October last year, she began vomiting and having diarrhoea frequently and had to stop working. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 stomach cancer in January.

Mr Tan said: "The doctor said my mother was too old and the chances of recovery were not high, so she decided not to have chemotherapy and to return home on Jan 4."

Mr Tan told The Straits Times on Tuesday that his mother's McDonald's job was her first time working in decades. She had worked for the British as a helper in the 1950s to early 1960s.

"As far as the grandchildren knew, she has never worked before the McDonald's job," he said.

She leaves behind three children, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Madam Goh had worked with McDonald's for close to 20 years, a spokesman for McDonald's Singapore told The Straits Times on Tuesday. She last worked part time at the Bedok Mall outlet, and was at the now-defunct outlet at Bedok Interchange before that.

The branch was informed about Madam Goh's death on Monday, she said.

"Madam Goh's daughter told the restaurant general manager of the Bedok Mall branch that her mother was not in good health," said the spokesman.

Madam Goh stopped working at McDonald's in October last year. She was the oldest worker the company had, McDonald's said.

 

She had taken up the job with the fast-food chain at the age of 70 in 1998 as she felt bored, The Straits Times reported in 2016.

The family was astonished when she said she wanted to go to work at her age.

"We wanted her to stay at home and enjoy life at first, but she said she was bored at home and could talk to other grandmas at McDonald's," Mr Tan told Wanbao.

They did not expect her to work for 20 years.

"Mum really cherished her ability to work independently, and she did not ask for money from her children," he said. "She also kept the certificates and prizes she got from work carefully and treated them as treasures."

Madam Goh's granddaughter Chen Liyan wrote in a Facebook post that she had hoped to be able to spend Chinese New Year with her.

"Dear grandma, yesterday when I went to see you, I knew it was not good. However, I still innocently hoped that you would get better and spend Chinese New Year with us, but you left," she wrote. She added that her grandma had lived a full 90 years.