Bay Liscano Henderson is convinced that she was born to serve others.
During her more than 40-year career, she served as an administrative and executive assistant for high-ranking corporate bosses and others at a pair of Dallas-area companies.
Since 2015, Bay has served patrons at Celina Public Library. As a library assistant, she has become something of a celebrity throughout the city - at least among those who frequent the place.
“The kids, if they run into me at Brookshire’s or Dollar General, they say, `That’s the lady from the library.’ … I love it,” she said. “It’s rewarding. It feels good to help people.”
Growing up as one of 11 children in a Hispanic family that resided in the small West Texas town of Morton, Bay didn’t learn to speak English until she entered first grade.
The family, led by her farmer-father Agapito and stay-at-home mother Refugia, relocated to North Texas before Bay began her freshman year at Frisco High School, where she participated in National Beta Club and in 1970 served as vice president of the senior class.
Although she excelled in high school, Bay said she faced racial discrimination. Despite finishing third in her class, she claims that she didn’t receive any honors, and was not provided the same access as other students to college scholarships and grant monies.
In hindsight, “I should have marched myself into the principal’s office and said, `I got A’s in every subject. Why didn’t I get a single award?’” she said.
Instead, Bay headed to an employment office and, just days after graduating, began working full time.
At age 18, within months of starting in the mailroom at Crain Chemical Company in Dallas, she was promoted to executive assistant to the company’s chairman – a job she held for nearly two decades.
Later in her career, following the births of her sons Henry and Anthony, she accepted a similar position at Plano-based Electronic Data Systems, where she remained until 2012.
Reflecting on her career, 66-year-old Bay said, “I was good at what I did because of my attitude to want to serve, to help and support my managers and my team, to make their jobs easier. My organizational skills, dependability, efficiency and professional attitude were valued at both companies.”
She credits her strong work ethic to her father, who taught her at an early age to “do your best no matter what job you did, and always be on time.”
After moving from her former Carrollton home to Celina in 2011, Bay became a frequent visitor at Celina Public Library. She was hired four years later by Head of Library Services Linda Shaw to fill a part-time position.
“Bay has been absolutely instrumental in building our Spanish-speaking membership,” Shaw said. “We needed someone who could speak to those members” in their native language. “It helps them feel like they belong here.” Also, “Her heart and who she is as a person exemplifies what we want to be as a library.”
Bay said she enjoys assisting the library’s patrons.
“They’re the ones that I want to make happy by helping them find interesting books to read, helping them when they have computer problems,” she said. “It’s nice to be a part of our growing community.”