We all have people we count as influential and even inspirational in our careers. I have a number of them and will not attempt to name them all here. My list includes family, church friends, professors, employers and coworkers. A couple of those from that list had milestones occur in their lives recently and consequently caused me to reflect on some mutual experiences over these last few months.
Both of the individuals were important to me at the same workplace and the same time period. It was the Red Rock Wildlife Unit, I referred to it as a workplace. I really don't think back to those days and think of it as work other than I received a paycheck, otherwise, it was an adventure, an important part of my education. Perhaps as important as my formal education at Iowa State University in many respects.
I was a young, college seasonal employee with what was then the Iowa Conservation Commission. I counted myself fortunate to be selected to work at this management unit because I lived within driving distance. After living on the Bays Branch Unit the previous summer, I didn't want to share living quarters with small rodents again, if I could avoid it. Raccoons would have been fine. Mice aren't high on my list of critters. They rank just above squirrels on that list.
It was the Bays Branch Technician's recommendation that sealed the deal with my new boss Rick Trine. Pretty much I had the job before the interview. I liked the guy from the start. He was a young Conservation Technician barely starting his career himself. I was introduced to his boss, Chuck, and the two workers on the unit that I would interact with the most Roger and Harold.
After time on the mower, or tractor was through, there was time in the duckblind and fishing boat spent together with all of those guys during the total of nine months that I spent on the unit. I left that fall with my first hunting dog - one of Rick's Labrador retriever pups. My position ended on November 29 and I was married on December 1. All of those guys were at the wedding.
Rick worked on the Red Rock Unit for several years after I left for Grundy County. Later, he was chosen to move into the Biologist spot for the Otter Creek Unit the unit that includes Grundy County. I enjoyed working with Rick in his new role as our Biologist. Rick retired in December, 2012, along with his wife Ann. A previous boss, coworker, and friend retiring makes you stop and think a bit. Wow, according to IPERS, I could have retired last year, too.
I mentioned earlier that I worked alongside two others on that unit. One of those also reached a milestone. Retirement happened years ago. This was the final milestone here on Earth. I learned just last week that Harold had passed away.
Harold was an amazing fella. His love for the outdoors took him away from working at Amana to the new Red Rock Wildlife Unit in the late 1960s. He was one of those people who seemed to know how to do just about anything and if there was a problem, he could figure out how to solve it. When I wanted to learn how to weld, he put me at the welder with some pieces of scrap steel and after a bit of instruction had me weld away until I had mastered (or half mastered) the technique. I had the strangest looking work of art you ever saw, wish I had the thing today.
Harold worked for over fifteen years on the acreage that would finally become his home. He and his wife planted the trees, built the house and he even rented the bulldozer and built his pond. He loved hunting, fishing, backpacking and camping. Did he enjoy turkey hunting? He shot over 100 during his lifetime.
He began his career with the state shortly after the Red Rock Wildlife Unit began. No one knew that 26,000 acre area any better. He loved Iowa but was an adventurer outside its borders, as well. He had visited five continents and more than twenty countries. I was fortunate to have known him.