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After 31 years,
Kim Darland retires
By Shelley Spillman
Local Walmart Manager of 31 years, Kim Darland, will be retiring this week.
Darland was one of the first female Walmart managers in Kentucky, and a longtime pillar in the community known for her warm, caring personality and positive attitude. Throughout her time at Walmart, Darland showed dedication to Lawrenceburg, serving on the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce and participating in numerous community service related projects.
Mark Willard, Walmart assistant manager, has been working with Darland for 23 years. He started as a cart pusher, and under Darland’s guidance was able to work his way up to management.
“I always said ‘I will be a Walmart manager one day,’” Willard said. “She helped me make that dream possible.”
Prior to their current location, the Lawrenceburg Walmart was once located at the present location of Tractor Supply Company off of West Broadway Street. In 2006, the local Walmart became a supercenter and moved to the 1000 Bypass North location, growing from a 38,000 square foot facility to a 155,000 square foot building.
Willard said Darland’s supervisor skills were key to smoothly transitioning employees through a “huge change.”
“Kim taught me to take care of the customers and the community,” Willard said. “She’s incredible. She will be hard to replace.”
Word had circulated throughout the town that Darland was retiring.
Pam Borough, president of the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce, said at meetings she would hear people often asking, “did you know Kim is leaving?”
“There’s about 20,000 residents in Anderson County and probably 15,000 of them know who Kim is,” said Borough.
Borough has known Darland for more than 30 years. The two used to work together at Golden Corral in Harrodsburg.
Borough said Darland has served in almost every aspect of the chamber of commerce, including at one point holding the title of president.
“Kim is a special person that has always given of herself to the community,” Borough said.
She said Darland has assisted or volunteered with the American Legion Auxiliary, CASA of the Bluegrass, Relay for Life and Rotary, to name a few.
“She’s helped almost every organization in Anderson County,” Borough said. “Kim has given to so many things in the community that there’d be no way to name them all.”
Borough went on to say that she was also a person with a sunny disposition.
“She always did everything she could do to help,” Borough said. “In the 30 years I’ve known her I’ve never seen her anything other than smiling and happy. She’s been a jewel to work with.”
To Meredith Hyatt Lewis, Darland was a family friend that had a close relationship with her late father Robert Lewis Hyatt.
Lewis’s father retired and went to work as a Walmart greeter at the age of 75.
“She was very good to my father,” said Lewis. “They really had a sweet friendship.”
She said her father was very proud of Darland for her accomplishment of being one of the first female Walmart managers.
“He supported her,” Lewis said.
Hyatt was known as a jovial greeter who would often hug children, dance with customers and even sing.
“He wasn’t your typical greeter,” Lewis said. “He loved life and making people laugh.”
On March 28, Hyatt was diagnosed with Leukemia, and there were some days where he didn’t feel like his energetic self. Lewis said Darland had the stylists at the hair salon near the door he worked at to keep an eye on him. If he didn’t look well, she wanted to know so she could check on him and send him home, if needed.
At Hyatt’s funeral on May 21, his Walmart family served as honorary pallbearers.
“Kim is a great manager because she loves people,” Lewis said. “She takes care of her employees and that speaks volumes of her character.”
Though the Fourth of July is Darland’s last day, there will be a going away party for her Thursday, July 3 at 10 a.m. Associates and members of the community are invited to come, share memories and say their goodbyes.
For Darland, she said her departure is bitter sweet. She plans on spending more time with her husband, Doyle, of 32 years, but calls the customers and associates of Walmart her “other family.”
“I will miss all of the people more than anything,” she said. “I want to thank all of the customers for being like family, without them we wouldn’t have a job.”
Kim Darland’s Retirement Party
When: 10.a.m. Thursday, July 3
Where: Walmart in Lawrenceburg located at 1000 Bypass North
*Customers and associates are invited.