The University Record, January 18, 1993

Five staff members recognized for 40 years of service

By Mary Jo Frank

Five employees who were recently honored for 40 years of service agree that the University has changed dramatically since they were hired.

They’ve changed too, taking on additional responsibilities since the days when they started out, working as a maid, an elevator operator, a draftsman and a file clerk, and “doing a little bit of everything” in the U-M Hospitals’ night business office.

Buddy J. Campbell, Mary Delatorre, Edward C. Hayes, Georgene Spencer and Grace Willis were among several hundred staff members honored at the December service awards banquet for 10, 20, 30 and 40 years of service.

Campbell, engineer in research in the College of Engineering’s Space Physics Research Laboratory, began his career as a draftsman at the Willow Run Laboratory. Today he builds instruments for spacecraft.

Campbell, who has commuted to the U-M from Plymouth Township for 27 years, never dreamed of becoming an astronaut. However, he gets satisfaction from seeing projects he has worked on launched into space, including a number of shuttle missions and the HRDI weather satellite.

When he retires next year, Campbell plans to visit his seven grandchildren who are scattered across the country and continue with his art work. He specializes in ink drawings, doing everything from landscapes, people and animals to houses. He also designs logos for satellites.

Mary Delatorre, admitting clerk at the Kellogg Eye Center, says, “I could retire but I’m not old enough to get my rocking chair money.”

When Delatorre graduated from Dexter High School, she joined the U-M Hospitals Admitting Department as a file clerk. Back then everyone knew everyone in the hospital, even the director, recalls Delatorre, who carpools to work with a colleague from Chelsea.

Before joining the Kellogg staff, Delatorre worked in admitting at Women’s Hospital and Mott Hospital. The job has changed over time, particularly with the recent downsizing of some U-M Hospitals units, including admitting.

With the elimination of some supervisory positions, Delatorre says, “eventually we’ll be taking over what the supervisors did. All these years we relied on other people to make decisions. It’s a little scary.”

A U-M sports fan and football season ticket-holder, Delatorre has gone to two Rose Bowl games. In 1965 she rode a

U-M bus with faculty, staff and students to Pasadena to cheer the Wolverines to victory. She went again in the 1980s, but that time the U-M lost.

Edward C. Hayes, assistant director of personnel-faculty and staff information, in the Personnel Office, began his career with the U-M while working on a degree in mechanical engineering. In 1951 he was washing dishes at East Quadrangle for 95 cents per hour.

“By the time I got my degree in engineering, I decided to get an M.B.A.,” recalls Hayes, who worked part-time at the Hospital in the night business office doing everything from admitting patients to collecting bills.

Hayes joined the Personnel Office in 1959 as manager of compensation and worked on compensation issues until the late 1960s when he started working on academic personnel issues. Today he works primarily in personnel research, systems development and utilization—keeping track of what’s going on with University staffing.

Planning to retire sometime this year, Hayes says he looks forward to following the warm weather and playing lots of golf.

Georgene Spencer, formerly manager of Building Services, retired Dec. 31. Her duties included managing a multimillion dollar operation with more than 400 custodians and supervisors.

Now that she has more free time, Spencer looks forward to traveling. Since she took her first trip to the Bahamas in 1976, Spencer has been to the Middle East three times, and to Holland, Spain, China, Hong Kong and North Africa. She looks forward to trips to Australia, Thailand and East Africa.

Her plans also include volunteer work through her church’s outreach ministry and finishing her degree in business administration at Eastern Michigan University, where she has senior status.

When Spencer hired in as a temporary elevator operator for $1.06 per hour, kitchen work and operating elevators were the only positions open to Blacks, she recalls.

She later became a nurse’s aide, ward clerk, nursing service assistant, supervisor of ward clerks and eventually a division manager at University Hospital.

Grace Willis, staff associate in the Medical Campus Human Resources Department, managed employment at the Medical Center until 1986. She was in charge of employment at all levels, except for faculty.

Now Willis works on special projects for U-M Hospitals Executive Director John D. Forsyth, including staffing breakfast and luncheon meetings that Forsyth has with Hospitals employees. She also serves on grievance panels.

Willis worked in staff and union relations from 1971 to 1984, dealing with grievances, contract negotiations, contract administration, University policy revision and affirmative action. Before 1971, she was assistant department head in what was the Hospitals’ Central Services Department.

A graduate of Detroit’s Northern High School, Willis joined the U-M as a maid because her growing family needed extra money.

Six months later, Willis was promoted to elevator operator supervisor. Her duties gradually expanded to include supervising ambulance attendants, instrument repair, the Hospital post office, duplicating services and the dish room.

“I was just curious. I was always asking questions,” Willis explains. She also credits the University with providing additional training and sending her to conferences. “I have an education beyond high school, thanks to the U-M,” Willis notes.

In addition to her work at the Hospital, Willis served on the U-M Credit Union Board of Directors. “It was a lot of fun, a family kind of situation. We were growing and building,” she says.

Willis was instrumental in starting the Hospital Employees Retirement Organization (HERO). The group meets 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. the third Thursday of every other month at the North Campus Commons, except in July, when the retirees have a picnic and in December when they have a holiday luncheon.

She also serves on the Board of Directors of the SOS Crisis Center and helps staff the personnel committee there.