By C.J. Carnacchio
Special Contributor to The Review
OXFORD — If you happened to visit the Oxford McDonald’s on Friday, you were one of the many who were part of a special day for General Manager Patty King.
After 44 years of service beneath those famous Golden Arches, Patty retired on Oct. 14 and numerous people visited the eatery throughout her last shift to say goodbye and say “thank you” for all her years of smiling service to the community.
“I just felt like it was time,” she said. “I have grandkids and I want to spend more time with them.”
Her last day on the job came on the heels of her 44th anniversary as a member of the McDonald’s team. She began working at the Lake Orion restaurant on Oct. 11, 1978. At the time, she was a senior at Lake Orion High School. Her maiden name was Mickens.
After graduating in 1979, Patty was promoted to assistant manager. She soon left to work at the Oxford McDonald’s. Back then, both restaurants were owned by Jack McMahon.
Patty spent more than 20 years working in Oxford before she returned to the Lake Orion restaurant in May 2002 to serve as its new general manager.
There, in the heart of Dragon country, Patty distinguished herself. Over the years, she earned 13 outstanding manager awards, two outstanding restaurant awards and one outstanding drive-through award.
Her biggest honor came in 2008. That’s when Patty won the prestigious Ray Kroc Award. Established in 1999, the award annually recognizes the top 1 percent of McDonald’s restaurant managers.
She returned to manage the Oxford McDonald’s in 2020.
The secret to Patty’s success is no secret. She works hard and treats her co-workers and customers with kindness and respect.
“If you’re good to people, they’ll be good to you,” she said. “I’ve met so many people and made a lot of friends. I’ll miss the conversations. Building relationships with people comes naturally to me.”
As a manager, Patty has always been willing to roll up her sleeves and pitch in wherever she’s needed.
“I never put myself above the crew members. I work side-by-side with them,” she said. “I’m not the type of person who’s just going to stand there and not help out. They see that and respect it.”
Patty’s favorite part of her job has been seeing the potential in each crew member – particularly high school students and individuals with special needs – nurturing it, then watching them flourish at the restaurant and later in life.
She got to do that with her own son, Ben Horton, a 2006 Oxford High School graduate who worked with her at McDonald’s for 10 years. He’s now a career firefighter/paramedic with the Warren Fire Department.
Looking back on her career, Patty is grateful to everybody who stood by her and supported her over the years.
“I had a lot of people in my corner,” she said.
She’s particularly grateful to retired Oxford McDonald’s Manager Joan Halsted, former OHS varsity football coach Bud Rowley and Jack McMahon, the former restaurant owner.
Halsted was her mentor. “She helped me build my career,” Patty said. “I learned so much from her. She encouraged me to do my best and be my best.”
When times were tough, Patty said Rowley was a “cheerleader” in her life, constantly telling her, “You can do it! You can do it!”
As for McMahon, she said, “He was a phenomenal person to work for. He took really good care of us.”
Patty is looking forward to spending her retirement with her new husband, Kevin King, and their combined six children and 10 grandchildren.
By C.J. Carnacchio