The man who made me love my job
It’s always a pleasure to visit my Minnesota grandkids; pleasures always revolve around these beloved children.
This visit, I had another special pleasure…seeing my former boss, Al and his wife, Eleanor.
We’d visited a couple of years ago in Northfield, and we always exchange Christmas cards, but it’s so good to see people who were a big (and good) part of one’s life for a period of time.
When we first moved to Minnesota, I “subbed” at the Crookston Daily Times, but it didn’t provide much job security.
Then the publicist for University Relations at the University of Minnesota in Crookston retired. She must have put in a good word for me, because Al called and asked if I’d be interested in the job. Of course!
I loved the work. I wrote not only press releases and feature articles, but I also was responsible for a quarterly newsletter. Eventually I wrote a book about the former School of Ag. The office had a photographer on staff, so I didn’t have to do photos (yea!), and the sports department did their own thing (double yea!). I was salaried, so I didn’t have to “count hours” for a paycheck, and I had quite a bit of the summer free, which was good because the kids were small.
Al, Eleanor and their daughters lived down the street from us, so they were neighbors. But I learned quickly to appreciate him for the professional he was on the job.
He was kind, friendly and always the gentleman. He never tried to “tell” me what to do. When I first started, the desk was simply waiting for me, with no instructions. He provided me a roadmap, but he never tried to drive.
I so admired his integrity, and he knew enough to trust his staff. By and large he simply did his job (as director of University Relations), and he trusted me, the secretary, the photographer, the graphic artist and even the work-study student to get our jobs done without his interference.
That’s the reason we all wanted to do our best, because he figured we knew what we were doing, and he’d only offer an opinion if we asked. Trust and integrity were the operative words.
It’s hard to do Al justice, because he had such diverse interests. He could sew, he could cook, and he always had such curiosity about the goings on in the world. He was a true connoisseur of following the most interesting path that life had to offer.
After UMC, Al, Eleanor and the girls moved to Iran, where he taught. It was–to them–another adventure. They got out of that dangerous situation just before the Shah was ousted in 1979…and continued their lives in Northfield, Minn.
There they ran a flower shop for many years, and now they have a Scandinavian shop in historic downtown Northfield. I have a wonderful photo of Al with my grandkids as he is making Krum kaka before Christmas.
I’ve always held Al as the standard of how employers should treat their employees. I never felt belittled or inept or impotent when I worked for him. Because he trusted us, we trusted him.
After all these years, his former secretary also keeps in touch, and hopes to attend Al and Eleanor’s 50th anniversary this summer.
I told him when we visited that I know Boss’s Day is in October…but I’d gladly crown him “Boss of the Century” in May.
Some people just make your spirit soar…I’m privileged that he “helped me soar” during the time we worked together.