HICKORY HILLS, Ill. (WLS) -- A longtime crossing guard in southwest suburban Hickory Hills was honored for being one of the longest-serving election judge in Cook County.
Mary Ann Anifer, 77, said it has been her honor for many of the last 10 years to stand at the corner of 97th and Roberts Road keeping kids safe. But Tuesday she was honored for spending 59 years helping people's voices be heard.
"It's very, very overwhelming, but it is heartwarming," she said of the honor.
Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough presented Anifer with a certificate of service and other gifts as acknowledgement of her commitment to others.
"It's important to send a message out there to people that there are people like Mary Ann," Yarbrough said.
Anifer began volunteering as an election judge when she was just 18-years-old and John F. Kennedy was poised to become America's 35th president. Since then, she's witnesses the evolution of elections.
"When I started out, it was just the old machines where you had to pull down the bar and go in there, and then you stayed all night and counted the votes," she recalled.
Incredibly, she's never missed a year or an election, including in 2018 when she was injured by a hit and run driver while working as the crossing guard outside Conrady Junior High School.
Never married and with no children of her own, Mary Ann took six months to heal. Tuesday afternoon, her niece and coworkers at the police department were on hand for her honor.
"She's invaluable to us," said Hickory Hills Police Lieutenant Mark Benatis. "We are so happy to have her."
"I call her my firecracker, a lot of energy and just great spunk. Great friend too," said Officer Heidi Wagner.
Despite the years, Anifer hasn't thought about retiring and has no intention of slowing down.
"I only do my job because I enjoy doing it," she said. "That's whether I'm a crossing guard or an election judge."
Hickory Hills crossing guard honored for decades of work as election judge