GREENVILLE — Tom Jenkins retired this past week from Midmark in Versailles after 42-plus years of service. His co-workers gave him a send-off, complete with a special speech and gifts.
Jenkins said it will now give him more time to spend at the Greenville Boys and Girls Club in Greenville of which he has been director for the past 11 years.
He and his wife, the former Diane Leeper, met at Midmark a few years before they married. They now have been married for 25 years, and she continues to work there.
The couple, together, has five children (Wendy Kelly and Ryan and Brian Widener, Jessica Jenkins Abel and Tommy Jenkins), eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild on the way.
He has done many jobs during his tenure at Midmark, where he went to work in September 1977. He spent some time in the grinding department, in the laser department, was in a supervisory position all over for 8 1/2 years and ran the robot welder.
“I loved the robot,” he said. “I programmed it. It took the place of three different welders. Now, they have many.”
In 1996, Jenkins underwent a triple bypass, was off work for six weeks and, after his recovery, gave up his supervisory position and went into grinding. He was on sterilizing assembly for 1 1/2 years, then worked with the lasers until he retired.
Jenkins is son of Dick “Sheepherder” and Dorothy “Julia” Jenkins, who died in 1975 and 2002, respectively. He has 21 siblings, including two that belonged to his father from a previous marriage.
“We first lived in Fremont City, then moved to Urbana where we grew up,” he said.
A move was then made outside of Urbana into a three-room house (when there were 12 children still at home) for three or four months until their father was asked to work for Marvin Detling near Ansonia
After graduating from Ansonia High School, Tom spent four years in the U.S. Navy, from 1973-77. He also went on to enlist in the Navy Reserves for a total of 24 years, retiring in 2001. The Reserves had him serving one weekend a month and two weeks a year in that time. During his military stint, he was automatically shipped to Japan and Guam in 1973, and evacuated Vietnam in 1975.
“I crossed the Pacific four times,” said Jenkins, whose father died in December that year and he was deployed home for a few weeks.
“He died Dec. 5 and they told me I could stay until after Christmas,” recalled Tom,
Like Tom, four other brothers served in the military.
Asked his reasons for retiring, he responded, “It’s time.”
More on Jenkins and his work with the Greenville Boys and Girls Club will appear in this coming weekend’s Early Bird.