We see the Lowry and Momís employees every day, but most students donít take a lot of time to get to know them. All of them have led interesting lives and have interesting stories to tell.† To get the ball rolling, I sat down for a few minutes with Ken McNeil, a part-time employee in the dining hall, to talk to him about his life.
McNeil was born in Portland, Maine and lived there until he graduated from high school, when he joined the United States Navy.
ìI wanted a chance to see the world,” he said, ìand that was the cheapest way to do it.† That was in 1963.† I was in the Navy for 21 years.† Loved it.”
A few years after joining up, McNeil was assigned to the U.S.S. Forrestal, an aircraft carrier stationed in the gulf of Tarkin.† A few days before he was set to leave, however, an aircraft malfunction caused a plane crash which killed 134 people and the assignment was cancelled.
ìIt finally hit home that where I was going was going to be right where the action was.† It really wakes you up and makes you realize how short life is, and how you have to respect it.† I was only 21 ó life seemed so easy then.† It made me realize that doing the job I was doing was the type of job that you could lose your life ó that quick.”
McNeil met his wife during his last Naval assignment, working as a Senior Chief Yeoman for an admiral at a base in Meridian, Miss.† She was stationed at the base as well, and they were married by the time they both decided to leave the service.
ìI came home to Wooster, and it was the same type of environment as a fishing village back in Maine ó small town, people are very open and I loved it here, so when I got ready to retire, this was the place I wanted to come.† Been here 26 years, raised my family here.”
McNeil has six children, all of whom are now grown.† His youngest daughter graduated from Ohio State last year. Two now work with him at the college.
ìTony works over in the gym, heís a custodial supervisor here on campus, and then Iíve got my daughter who works on the night shift in [Severence] and Mateer.† And then my wife who just finished up at the college, she was in the I.T. department as a purchasing manager.† She retired in April.”
McNeal retired three years ago, but decided to get a part-time job at Lowry, working about twenty hours a week.
He says, ìThe one thing is, with retirement, you need to stay interactive with people.† I have to have something to look forward to.† I enjoy the students.† Hopefully you see that, thatís not something I put on.† If youíre a people person, you miss that interaction.”