There's something to be said for sticking with what you start. It seems like it doesn't happen very often any more.
Just look at divorce rates. "Til death do us part" doesn't mean what it used to.
Need more proof? Take a glance at your favorite sports team. It's hard to get attached to players on those teams any more. They come and go with regularity. Even when you think you have a player on your team that will stay forever, he makes like Albert Pujols or LeBron James and bolts somewhere else for more cash.
This isn't to blame those who divorce or those money-hungry professional athletes. Those people have lives to live and who are we to tell them how to live them? We might not like it, but that's on us.
One of the many reasons why I respect my parents is because they were hard workers. My mother graduated from nursing school and worked at the same hospital for nearly 40 years. My father likely would have never left his job as a die maker except that his factory closed and he had to find another job. For more than 20 years, he drove to and from Galesburg to the Rock Island Arsenal for his "new" job.
Jay Zanger of Quincy can relate to that.
For his entire life, he's watched his father, Larry, get up every day and head off to the same place for work. The name on the front door to Larry Zanger's workplace may have changed a few times over the nearly 49 years he worked there, but his dedication never waned.
His first day of work as a rimline line operator for Electric Wheel, a division of Firestone, was on Feb. 22, 1965. When Electric Wheel closed in 1983 and was bought by Can-Am, Zanger was hired as a rimline machine operator. In December 1987, Zanger became a machine maintenance oiler, a job he would hold for nearly 26 years. Can-Am was purchased by Titan in 1991 and renamed for the parent company.
"He is old-school to a T," Jay Zanger said of his dad. "He's the type of guy who worked first, second and third shift throughout his career and many times pulled doubles. You went to work every day unless you were in the hospital. He worked sick, hurt and tired. I remember days where he would go to work sick, get home at 4:30 p.m. and smear Vicks on his chest, wrap a towel around his neck, and go to bed only to get up the next day and do it all over again."
Zanger worked hard to provide for his wife, Donna, and their five children. In addition to his work at the factory, Zanger mowed yards, cleaned businesses and sold vegetables from the family's huge backyard garden. This helped put his five children through catholic grade school, Quincy Notre Dame and various colleges.
Watching that work ethic has served his children now that they are adults.
"He taught his kids responsibility, loyalty and dedication," Jay Zanger said. "We didn't miss a game, school or work if we didn't feel the greatest. We didn't quit halfway through a game, class, season or work day. We didn't skip practice to go to the pool with our friends."
Larry Zanger walked out the factory for the last time on Dec. 18. His official retirement will come early in 2014 after all of those unused vacation and sick days are finally spent.
"He gave his mind, body and spirit to that company, family and friends," Jay Zanger said. "Now that he is retiring, we are worried about what he is going to find to keep himself occupied. The guy doesn't know the word quit, but he finally figured out the definition of retirement."