Barbara Jimenez began working at a facility named Brentwood North in Riverwoods, IL, when she was a high schooler.

Forty years later, she left the building — which has been named Elevate Care Riverwoods since Elevate Care purchased it in 2019 — a retiree, and the wife of a man she met while working there a year after she started.

Nelson and Barbara Jimenez enjoyed a surprise retirement party Sept. 8 and residents lined up to say goodbye to the couple who have spent their lives together not only at home but also at work.

They’ve been married 35 years and between them have more than 80 years of service at the facility, licensed for 240 beds. He is a CNA and she is a dietary aide. (As an aside, the facility proudly points out it also has two other workers who have logged more than 20 years apiece.)

“We love this place,” Nelson told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News. “It’s where we grew up.”

At the party, an emotional Nelson made a speech about his tenure and how the co-workers and residents kept him engaged.

“We love taking care of the older people,” he told McKnight’s. “We have fun.”

“They’re friendly too,” Barbara added. “They make me laugh.”

Their routine at home through the years has included raising a son, who is now 34. Nelson said he takes care of nearly everything there because, as he pointed out with a chuckle, the secret to a marriage of 35 years between co-workers is: “Happy wife, happy life.”