Retirement: What’s that?

Bob Akins by Bruce Stambaugh
Bob Akins has worked at Briar Hill Stone Co, Glenmont, OH for 65 years.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Bob Akins loves to go to work. He supposedly retired in 1990, but Bob is a man of routines. Work was an important one, so he kept at it.

The 84-year old Killbuck, Ohio resident arrives at Briar Hill Stone in Glenmont every workday at 5:30 a.m. sharp and finishes up at noon. As of September 4, he started his 66th year at the stone company.

“I enjoy working there,” Akins said, stating the obvious. “The company wanted me to keep working.”

Just a few moments with the knowledgeable Akins gives a hint as to why Briar Hill wanted him to stay around. A shiny semi-tractor trailer pulled into the sandstone company’s yard. In one glance, Akins knew where the truck was from, what the driver would be hauling, and where the stone would be delivered.

Think that might be obvious? Think again. Akins had never seen the truck or the driver before. He just knew what shipment was due to go out that particular day. In this case, the load of custom cut sandstone was heading to Saskatchewan, Canada.

Bob Akins with stone by Bruce Stambaugh
Giant brownstone slabs are Briar Hill Stone’s signature product, used in construction around the United States.

As the company’s customer service representative, Akins has enjoyed his part-time labor for 20 years instead of working the full day like he did for 45 years at Briar Hill. With this much experience and his superb loyalty to Briar Hill, he’s entitled to a little rest.

Akins’ loyalty doesn’t just lie with his job. He and his wife, Janet, have been married for 60 years.

“I wanted to date Janet for a long time,” he said. “She finally agreed one New Year’s Eve.”

Akins in part attributes his strong work ethic to his hard childhood.

“My father died when I was nine months old,” Akins said.

Born and raised in Blissfield south of Killbuck in Coshocton, County, Akins still owns his home property there. Akins has lived in Killbuck for more than 60 years.

He graduated from Warsaw High School, now River View. He continued his education taking various courses through work.
Akins started at Briar Hill in 1947 as a production control clerk. He held that job for a decade before switching to the mill department, focusing on stone samples.

In 1960, he worked in sales, shipping and inventory control, and held that position for 21 years. He served as assistant sales manager for two years before being promoted to sales manager. He was in that important position for four years. Akins became customer service manager in 1988. He continues in that capacity today, just on a part-time basis.

Ask Akins anything about Briar Hill products, and he has an immediate and succinct answer. That could be one of the reasons the company wants Akins around.

Glenmont OH by Bruce Stambaugh
Briar Hill Stone has several stone quarries located in the hills around Glenmont, OH.

He cannot only explain the difference in the stone products, but how they are produced, where they are most used and sold. When it comes to Briar Hill stone, Akins is a walking dictionary.

In addition to his work, Akins put his experience to work for the community. He is past president of the Killbuck Chamber of Commerce, past chairperson of the Killbuck Early American Days homecoming, past financial secretary of Killbuck United Methodist Church, and was a former director of the Wayne-Holmes County Home Builders Association.

Akins is a member at Killbuck United Methodist Church. His hobbies include collecting coins, bottles and antiques. He also enjoys attending arts and crafts shows, and traveling with his wife.

As for his job, Akins sees no change in exercising his determined daily work ethic.

This article appeared in The Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2012

Schuler remains young at heart

Feeding the birds is one of life’s pleasures for Judson Schuler, of Millersburg, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

In every way, Judson Schuler, 94, belies his age.

His mind is as sharp as a tack. He recalls incidences from 60 years ago as if they happened yesterday. And yet, he can more than carry his own in conversation about current events.

For a man is his 90s, Schuler has maintained his health, too. He attributes that to his regular physical workout routine three times a week at a local physical fitness facility.

“I like to stay active,” Schuler said. “I think it’s one of the secrets to staying healthy while getting old and enjoying it.”

He is true to his word.

“I still like to mow and help out with raking and gathering the leaves,” Schuler said. Given the size of his property, that is no small task. Schuler lives on Briar Lane in Millersburg, Ohio. His late wife, Beverly, was the daughter of the president of Briar Hill Stone in Glenmont.

“The original idea for our development was that every home would be built using their stone,” Schuler said. “It was to be a model for what could be done in construction.”

“Bev and I built this in 1956,” he said. “It still suits me well.” Accordingly, the home was built using the decorative, multi-colored sandstone. The Schuler’s were married 62 years. Schuler has a son, a daughter, four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

The living room and den to the back of the stately home both have large windows and sliding glass doors that afford Schuler good views of the wildlife that he so adores.

“I enjoy feeding the birds, especially the goldfinches,” he said. Indeed, he has a thistle feeder and a hopper feeder in the spacious backyard. His binoculars hang at the ready by his favorite chair.

Schuler also gets great pleasure from watching other wildlife, like squirrels and deer that scurry through his tree-studded backyard. Though he wouldn’t ever say so, Schuler certainly has earned his right to leisure away his days.

Schuler was a noted attorney in Holmes County for many years. He practiced law well into his ‘70s. His late brother, John, was one of his partners. Ray Miller was the other.

“I still have an office in the firm,” he said. “That was part of the sale, that John and I would always have an office to go to.”

Schuler said that when he began practicing law in 1946, Millersburg had six or seven attorneys.

“Now I think there are 20,” he said with an ornery smile.

Schuler said he no longer practices, but that he still goes to the office occasionally just to check in with the other attorneys. The Critchfield, Critchfield and Johnston law firm bought Schuler’s Millersburg firm when he retired.

“My middle name is Critchfield,” Schuler said. “I’m a second cousin to that family.”

Early in his attorney days, Schuler was once the Holmes County prosecutor. But his heart was in private practice.

With his successful career behind him, Schuler takes one day at a time and enjoys every minute of his experiences. That approach might be because his life has revolved around relationships with his clients, his friends, his community activities and his family.

Schuler has served in several civic capacities. He was the local veterans service officer. He served on the development disabilities board, the airport authority, and several years on the board of directors of the Commercial and Savings Bank.

Schuler was also appointed by the governor to serve on the Ohio Public Health Council, which processed all the rules for mental hospitals, nursing homes, and even public water supplies.

“That was an incredible experience for me,” Schuler said. “I learned a lot during those 12 years.”

Schuler is also a member of the American Legion Post 192 and was made a life member of the Killbuck VFW.

Schuler served in the Army during World War II and fought in the battle of The Bulge. He can rattle off details of war stories as if they had happened yesterday.

He likes to read a lot, too, focusing on “the great people at the beginning of the Republic.” Schuler also likes golf and of course, watching Ohio State football games. He has owned season tickets for 50 years, as he received both his bachelor’s and law degree from The Ohio State University.

Though he has traveled the world and had many exciting experiences, Schuler still considers himself “a small town guy.” Likely, there are plenty of local people thankful for that.

Judson Schuler, of Millersburg, often relaxes in his den.