A waitress who served more than just food

My lips, two blushing pilgrims

Ready stand to smooth that rough touch

With a tender kiss

"Every time I read my lines," said Dietrich, "she opened her eyes and nodded."

On Monday, Nov. 18, Shakers closed during breakfast in honor of McWhorter. Many of her co-workers and customers went to St. Therese Church in Alhambra that morning for the funeral Mass.

"She was infectious," said former South Pasadena Mayor Ted Shaw, a customer for 26 years. "You know what? She made you feel at home. It wasn't just what's on the menu, it was personal things. And a lot about Dietrich."

Shaw said McWhorter didn't bother bringing a menu to his table because she knew what he would order every time.

Chili-size hamburger, cooked medium, no onions.

Then one day he ordered a club sandwich.

"She said, 'Oh, my God. He's all right, isn't he?'"

Miki Jackson and Cate Uccel were longtime customers, too.

"It wasn't, 'Let's go have lunch at Shakers,'" Jackson said. "It was, 'Let's go have lunch with Margaret.'"

Twenty-eight years ago, Mary Naredo joined the staff as a waitress.

"Margaret told me to always be sure to tell the customers everything is homemade at Shakers. She was very professional about it, and she worked extremely hard."

Naredo said lots of customers waited to see where McWhorter was working before they decided where to sit.

"Her station was always full. They'd come in here looking for her because she touched so many hearts and blessed so many people," Naredo said. "Some lonely people would come in here and she'd comfort them. Sometimes homeless people would come in and she'd order them a hamburger and tell the chef she'd pay for it."

McWhorter was born in Hungary, moved to the U.S. with her family when she was 12, met a man at Pasadena City College and got married. That didn't work out, but her life was full.

We tend to commemorate the glamorous and spectacular in Los Angeles, and we celebrate those who beat long odds. But maybe we too often overlook the people who toil in anonymity, bringing dignity and pride to their work, and going out of their way to touch lives and give meaning to our daily routines.

At McWhorter's funeral Mass, Jackson and Uccel — who often socialized with McWhorter, going to concerts and other events with her — told me they had gone to see their friend in the hospital.

"She said she loved us and we told her we loved her," said Jackson. "She said she worried that she hadn't done enough with her life."

And Jackson thought, come on, Margaret.

"Don't you know what you've done for everyone?"

Donations in Margaret McWhorter’s name can be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at www.pancan.org.

steve.lopez@latimes.com

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