Over 500 years of tannery experience in visit

Numbers add up in commute, too

A group of former Wolverine World Wide tannery workers gathered back in Rockford during the final days of the demolition of their old workplace. Enjoying a midday meal at Sam’s Joint on Monday, Nov. 22, the group ranged from as few as 20 years in the tannery up to an amazing 45-and-a-half years at Wolverine. The “winner” in the experience category is Karen Kindel, who began working in the tannery in 1962. Kindel said the last 20 years she worked in the tannery she commuted from Ithaca—a daily round trip of 120 miles.

Kindel, who had retired from the company before the tannery was shut down, said she feels terrible about the demolition, and working there was like working with family. Her best memories from her days there were her coworkers, she said.

Cindy Koomen was a machineoperator for 34 years with the tannery. She said it was nice to get together with her friends and said it was a little bit sad watching the buildings come down. From Casnovia, Koomen has been taking pictures of the summer demolition.

Nancy Fifield of Pierson worked for Wolverine World Wide for 42-and-a-half years and was a supervisor. She met her husband Roger while working there, and the two will be married 40 years next April. She started work in 1967 and said there were a lot of memories in the old buildings. “It’s surprising how much land they took up,” she said of the open space left by the demolition.

“Even though the tannery is torn down the friendships there last forever,” said Koomen

When added up, the years of tannery/Wolverine experience represented by the friends comes to a whopping 575 years.

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