We had the chance to grab a coffee with former Westinghouse employee George Winchester to hear his fond memories of working in the building and the friendships he made.
Transportation, the Best Boss and the Westinghouse Retirees
George Winchester worked in the Transportation/Shipping department at Westinghouse from November 1964 to April 1983, at which point he went to work in the Turbine department on Mill Street. George spent 35 years, nearly his whole working career, at Westinghouse and shared that there was something altogether different about working there.. He said it was a wonderful place to learn and grow. All departments, employees and executives, worked together as a team and shared in the success of the company.
The Transportation Department
The Transportation Department was located on the ground floor of Westinghouse HQ. George was responsible for looking after railway line clearances, rates, loss and damage claims, and freight bill audits. During that period there were 13 people working in his department and 12 employees in the Customs Department.
The Transportation Department had ceiling to floor drapes, and sofas. When carriers would come in to chat with George they would lounge on the sofas and discuss business. Westinghouse was an international company that had customers visit from China, Libya, South America, USA, and from all across Canada. Hospitality was an essential part of doing business with Westinghouse.
The Westinghouse Experience
George shared some wonderful memories of working in the head office building. He commented on how the gardens were always manicured and the building always had a comforting, homey feeling to it. Every 2 years all hairline cracks that may have developed got filled and the walls repainted. The elevators used to be manually operated by two women who wore Westinghouse uniforms consisting of high heels, black nylons, a blue skirt, a white blouse, a blue jacket and white gloves. The experience and visual appeal of the company was important for upholding the Westinghouse reputation.
Westinghouse President Douglas C. Marrs
George spoke very highly of one of the President's during his time, Douglas C. Marrs. He started working at Westinghouse as an Accounting Clerk and became the President from 1974-78. On George's first day of work he saw Doug and greeted him, “Good Morning, Mr. Marrs.” Doug responded saying, “Morning, but the name’s Doug, thank you.” He wanted to be known by everyone and connect with the employees on a first name basis.
George shared a heartwarming story that displayed the kind of man that Doug was. A woman had called Doug Marrs directly, complaining that her Westinghouse refrigerator broke and all her food had rotted. So Doug asked George to ship, free of charge, a new fridge to Saskatoon and included a check for $500 to replace the food. George shared many more stories that showed the servant leadership of this man, which reverberated throughout the Westinghouse company. Sadly, Doug Marrs passed away February 25, 2017 at the age of 103.
George is now part of the committee that arranges the twice annual Westinghouse Retirees Luncheon in May and October. At the last gathering they had 86 people attend. They gather to share Westinghouse stories and nurture their long held friendships. One gentlemen from Winnipeg flies in for the luchones every year. George explained that working at Westinghouse really felt like a family and the dozens of retirees that gather each year is a testament to the special bond they share.
We continue to gather stories from people who worked at the Former Westinghouse Company to share the history and community connections that contribute to the richness of Westinghouse HQ today.
If you have a story to share, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.