by Micah Wilkins, web editor
Brenda Skaggs is responsible for a lot. She makes your favorite Gladfelter brownies, the ones that go so quickly; she answers to your call for more peanut butter pie; she abides by your dietary preferences with vegan banana bread and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and she bakes the rolls for your deli sandwiches, fresh everyday.
Skaggs has worked in the bake shop in Gladfelter for 18 years. Three years ago, when her husband passed away from pancreatic cancer, she considered cutting her time here short and retiring.
Jim Lauer, director of Student Services, though, convinced her to stay on and continue to be a part of the Warren Wilson community.
“Jim said to me, ‘Brenda, these students will be your salvation,’” Skaggs said. “And they truly are. We’re a nice Warren Wilson family and I’m very glad to be part of it. I feel like I’m a part of the place.”
Skaggs points at her blue floral apron.
“One of my students made this for me,” she said. The apron came with matching oven mitts and pot holders.
“I meet a lot of students from overseas and from here and they like me and they bring me gifts. I truly love all my students.”
“I’ve been here so long, I’m a fixture I guess”
Skaggs has been in the food industry for over 30 years. She and her husband owned two restaurants in the Asheville area. After taking a two-year break from managing those, Skaggs wanted to get back to work.
“I decided to be back in the public because I’d always worked in the public,” Skaggs said.
When she was hired on 18 years ago, Skaggs was working three days a week, cooking breakfast. Eventually, she started working full time, and shifted towards desserts.
Skaggs is in charge of all the desserts in Gladfelter, but her students know what to do when the times she’s not around, thanks to her thorough instructions.
Usually, not always, her students are on the ball. On one occasion, Skaggs set aside a bowl of chocolate frosting in the refridgerator over the weekend, only to discover it missing on Monday morning.
“One of the dining students thought it was pudding and put it out, but the students just ate a whole bowl of chocolate frosting,” Skaggs laughs.
Recently Skaggs has again been considering retiring from her post at the bakeshop.
“I’ve been here so long, I’m a fixture I guess, but maybe not for too much longer,” she said. “Maybe I’ll settle down a little and do some more travelling. I’ve travelled a lot. I’m just thankful that I haven’t done like a lot of people and say ‘Well when I retire, I’m going to…’ because I’ve already done it. I have no regrets.”