‘He’s an inspiration:’ Henrico County honors employee for 72 years of service

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Elvin Cosby never misses a chance to thank his employees for their hard work.

“You’ve been right there for me, you haven't turned me down yet,” Cosby said to a co-worker who visited his office Monday.

Perhaps it’s because he knows what it’s like to start at the bottom, carrying water for Henrico County Public Works’ employees 72 years ago at a salary of 25 cents per hour.

“A lot of the people thought we were prisoners,” Cosby said.

Elvin Cosby

In reality, they were county employees, but back in segregated Henrico County, white folks got scared.

“They was afraid,” said Cosby. “They would lock the doors, or sick the dogs on ya. They didn't know who we were.”

Now 90, Cosby still works for Henrico County as a supervisor and lives mentoring young black employees.

“I want them to come on up the ladder,” Cosby said.

He said he can hardly believe how much Henrico changed since he started working there in 1946: from massive developmental, to increased opportunities for blacks.

“We got a lot of blacks in higher places that I thought we would never see,” Cosby said.

And now it’s the county’s turn to thank their longest serving employee for his service.

Mr. Cosby wiped away tears as the county surprised him Monday with a ceremony outside the county administration building where they renamed a street “Elvin Cosby Way.”

Mr. Cosby’s boss Jamie Massey said nobody deserves the honor more.

“He’s an inspiration really to us all,” Massey said.

And, Mr. Cosby said even at 90, he has no plans to retire.

“You know most people retire at like 60,” CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit said.

“I know they do... they say you sit on the porch, you don't sit on the porch long,” Cosby replied.