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Milton Garland dead at 104

July 20, 2000

Milton Garland dead at 104



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Milton Garland, who worked for the same Waynesboro company for eight decades and was honored in 1998 as the nation's oldest worker, died in his sleep Thursday morning at Quincy United Methodist Home, his wife Alice said. He was 104.

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Garland was born Aug. 23, 1895, during Grover Cleveland's second term as president. His life spanned more than a century and 19 presidential administrations.

His last public appearance was in the Waynesboro Memorial Day Parade. A few days later he suffered a massive heart attack and was taken to Waynesboro Hospital where he stayed for a few weeks before being transferred to the nursing home.

On July 4, Waynesboro honored Garland by writing his name in fireworks during the community's annual Fourth of July celebration. Garland was unable to leave the nursing home to see the display.

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"He was failing and they did all they could for him," Alice Garland said. "Milton was dedicated to his work and his community."

Alice Garland was his second wife. They were married for 33 years.

Garland's first wife had died. They had two children, a son, M. Ward, and a daughter, Jean Garland Woloshyn. Both are in their 70s, live in California and are expected to be in Waynesboro by Saturday to help arrange for their father's funeral, Alice Garland said.

A spokesman at Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home in Waynesboro said Garland's obituary would not be available until his children arrive.

In 1998, Greenthumb honored Garland as the country's oldest worker. Greenthumb is a national senior advocacy group that focuses on training and finding jobs for low-income older workers.

Garland was born in Harrisburg, Pa. He said in a 1997 interview that his earliest recollection was of a bridge washing out over the Susquehanna River in 1897, a hundred years earlier.

He interrupted his college career to serve in the U.S. Navy from 1917 to 1919 then returned to his studies. He graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1920. That same year he landed a job at the Frick Co., in Waynesboro. He was still there 80 years later when his health failed in June.

While at Frick, Garland became a recognized pioneer in modern refrigeration equipment. He racked up more than 40 patents during his years with the company.

He retired as vice president of technical support in 1967 at age 88. He returned to his office the following day as a paid consultant. One of his first tasks after retirement was to set up a training school to teach Frick customers how to use the equipment they bought.

Bruce Schaeffer, manager of technical support today, came to work at Frick right after Garland had retired.

"Was he (Garland) well thought of at Frick? Good heaven he was thought of as an icon," Schaeffer said Thursday. "He was extremely well respected throughout the industry and the world."

Schaeffer said Garland's co-workers considered him to be a gentlemen.

"We've never heard him say a cross or unkind word about anyone. He was a good friend and a real gentleman," he said.

Even in his last years at the plant on Cumberland Valley Avenue, Garland went to work every day dressed in a suit.

He walked to work from a Second Street house he bought in 1926. It was only in recent years that he would agree to accept rides.

In 1988, when he turned 93, Garland cut back his hours at Frick to mornings only.

Failing eyesight forced him to use a magnifying device to do his work in later years, but it didn't seem to bother him.

"Most of us don't like change in the workplace, but just imagine how many changes Mr. Garland has seen staying with the same company all those decades," said Carol Henicle, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce.

"He started working with a pencil and paper and probably didn't even have a phone. He saw all those changes right on up into the information age," she said.

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