Starting my senior year in high school, I worked for Northwest Metal Products Company, or NorWesCo, for twenty eight years before leaving in 2006. NorWesCo wasn't a small company, it wasn't a large company. Located in downtown Kent when I started in 1977, the company relocated to Fife in 1994 when the city of Kent purchased the land to build the Regional Justice Center.
I think that my generation is close to the last where once you got a job, for the most part, you stayed at that job until you retired. It wasn't unheard of for employees to stay with the company where I worked for anywhere up to forty plus years. I think now, if one has that kind of longevity at a job, you are looked at as there is something wrong with you.
I 'borrowed' this picture from Jack. I think that it was taken somewhere around 1980 or there abouts. Hysterical. From the left: Betty Ebel, Lil Jones, Sharon Park. Jerry Edwards, Bill Rodwell, Dale, Glen Emery, Paul Lewis, and that may be me on the very right. I am not admitting anything. My father-in-law to be (in about seven years), Chuck is sitting at the table. Gotta repeat it. Hysterical.
Being only seventeen when I started in the office, I look at the people that I worked with for all of my working life as a dysfunctional family of sorts. The family feeling was made a bit easier because of all the family members that worked there. In the McDaniel family, Randy's dad and oldest brother, Jack, retired from NorWesCo. Randy's mom worked there for a bit, Jack met his wife, Teri, there and obviously, I met Randy there. That was just the McDaniel family tree. I knew Randy's mom and dad and Jack before I knew Randy.
To reinforce the seven degrees of separation theory, I graduated high school with Tina, Randy's youngest brother's wife. There is only one other person from my school days that I keep in regular contact with, besides my best friend from seventh grade on, Laurie, is Guy. That's because he's not only a good guy (Get it? His name is Guy and he's a good 'guy'!), but we worked for many years together at NorWesCo before he went to Boeing.
Dale & Bonnie at the party Randy and I had the day after we got married in 1987.
I think we all divide the timeline of our lives by the events that affect us. Normal life happenings like marriage, children, grand-children, as well as events that are significant to just us personally. I have more than a few NorWesCo events that are integrated into my personal timeline.
Buying competitors, promotions, relocating to Fife, people coming and going, hysterically funny times, sad times, mad times and some very good times.
Dale and Bill Rodwell at the 1989 Christmas party.
Most of us define ourselves by what we do for a living. If asked "what do you do?" most of us will respond with what we do (or did) during our working lives, not that we are avid readers, amateur photographers, (very bad) video game players, gardeners, painters, as well as wives, sisters, daughters - well, you get the idea.
My standard response to this question was "I work for a light sheet metal manufacturer. We make gutter, downspout, HVAC products as well as mailboxes, wheelbarrows and garbage cans. Hey, someone has to make garbage cans."
Earlier this month, Dale McGuire, a member of our NorWesCo family passed away. He worked for the company for thirty five years when he retired in 2004. Obviously, I knew Dale my entire working life.
I found out that Dale was ill before Thanksgiving last year. I half-heartedly tried to find his address to send him a note. Now it's too late. It is too late to thank him for the wealth of knowledge that he shared with me. For all the maple bars he wrapped up and left on my desk. For loving to scare the living daylights out of me. For pointing out the grey hair I was getting, all the while I told him repeatedly they were high-lights that I paid dearly for at the hair salon. For teasing me, but yet knowing when to be professional. For calling me 'D'. For the unwavering support that he gave me - especially in 2001 when things really started to change in earnest for all of us.
Thank you, Dale. Rest in peace.