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Six Flags Over Georgia president to retire

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ATLANTA -

What started as a fun summer job for a Mableton teenager turned into an amazing career. Imagine a job where your number one priority is to make sure that everyone is having the time of their lives.  Melinda Ashcraft has been doing just that for almost 50 years.

"I love being out here because that's what it's all about," said Ashcraft.

What started as a fun summer job the 16-year-old when Six Flags Over Georgia opened more than four decades ago, turned into a career.

"I started in 1967. I worked in the operations area, rides and also the Crystal Pistol, and worked my way up after 45 years," said Ashcraft.

To say the Atlanta native worked her way up is a bit of an understatement.  Next week, she will officially retire as the park president after nearly a half century with the company.  

"I just felt like how could you possibly not enjoy a job that allows folks to come in and have such a wonderful time, and you be a part of that every day."

Along with her early work at the Crystal Pistol, she operated the Jean Ribeaut Riverboat ride, which was located where Thunder River currently sits.

"I remember riding that. Bonjour mes ami, and welcome aboard the French riverboat, Suzette," recalled Ashcraft.

Her career with Six Flags included seven moves, and learning the business at different parks around the country.

"I was perfectly happy at any of the properties if I had continued to have a career there or even retired from those locations. But truly to be able to get that call that said would you like to come back to Six Flags Atlanta, and I was like wow!  Yes, I would certainly be able to do that. So I got back and it's been a great opportunity all the way around," Ashcraft said.

And looking back on 45 years with one company, she feels like a bit of a pioneer as a woman who worked her way up through the system, the old fashioned way.

"I always felt if I worked hard and I did the job that I thought was always the best, then I would have the opportunity to move up and that is what Six Flags has afforded me. I mean, they've always given me opportunities to be the best I can," said Ashcraft.

Ashcraft never married or had kids, but she did recruit several members of her extended family to work at Six Flags through the years, including her mother, who spent more than 30 years with Six Flags. Her last day is Monday.

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