Volume 125, Number 31
Bakken retires after 38 years as UPS deliveryman
Reprinted From New Rockford Transcript
People have heckled him about it for years. Many thought it would never happen, but Rodney Bakken hung up his browns and officially parked his UPS vehicle on August 29. After 38 years of extraordinary service, Bakken announced his retirement from United Parcel Service.
Looking back over his 38 years of service Bakken says that it was the people in the community that made his job most enjoyable. Events that stand out as memorable include getting to know his customers, eating lunch with the locals, serving as a helping hand, receiving assistance from a helping hand, sampling baked treats from the good cooks on his route and many other fond memories too numerous to recall.
Bakken reflects on the good times and the not so good times, "Unfriendly dogs, bad roads and terrible weather conditions were a few things that made the job difficult at times. One winter it was a stormy 40 below zero day and the truck got stuck. I couldn’t see inches ahead of me and it was too cold to get out and walk, so to keep from freezing, I burned telephone books in my truck to stay warm until help came."
Another year the winter weather was so bad Bakken couldn’t make it home for Christmas Eve. A local customer generously opened his door and welcomed Bakken into his home. It was there that Bakken spent a memorable evening experiencing a unique Ukrainian Christmas with Papa Wishinsky and his wife.
But bitter North Dakota winters didn’t stop Bakken from doing his job. As a matter of fact, he rarely missed work. Other than a couple injuries that hindered his ability to walk, in his 38 years of service Bakken only called in sick on one occasion and that was because of the stomach flu. The calculations boil down to approximately 12,800 days worked (minus one day for the flu), about 2,560,000 miles driven and nearly 700,000 delivery stops made. In the process of logging all those miles and deliveries, Bakken went through six package cars and will register about 450,000 miles on his current package car before he parks it for the last time.
Delivering packages to the same communities for so many years has made Bakken a visible and familiar figure. He and his brown package car have brought merchandise, medications, long-awaited gifts and surprise packages to thousands of people on his route. He’s even assisted Santa with the delivery of presents during the holiday season. "I’ve delivered everything you can imagine from Avon products to rotten, stinky fish," he laughs. But working for UPS has been more than just an occupation, it was a job that supported Bakken and his family throughout most of his working life and for that he is grateful.
When asked "what did brown do for you?" a local customer said, "Believe me, Rodney delivers friendly customer service along with the packages! Every day, Rod enters our shop with a friendly smile. He is always willing to go the extra mile for us when we need him. We appreciate that because our business depends on it!"
Bakken memorized most of his customers’ addresses and recognized the vehicles they drove. Colleen at Farmers Union commented, "My mother knew Rod as a driver from many years ago and called him Rockin’ Rodney. I called him Rotten Rodney because I always liked to give him grief. He will definitely be missed." Colleen appreciated that Bakken knew people’s vehicles and would track them down to give them their packages rather than leaving them outside or dropping them off at the neighbor’s place.
Customers who encountered Bakken outside of work often joked, "I almost didn’t recognize you without your browns on." But Bakken is looking forward to retiring his browns for a good pair of blue jeans and a western shirt. He plans to spend his retirement days working at his buffalo ranch, maintaining his yard, lounging on his patio, cooking meals for his wife and traveling to visit friends and family.
A retirement open house was held for him on August 30 at the Devils Lake Country Club.
Oberon native Rodney Bakken has retired after 38 years with United Parcel Service. He is shown here in a familiar pose. A 1968 graduate of Oberon High School, he is the son of the late Rudy and Esther Bakken. He plans to spend more time at his buffalo ranch southwest of Minnewaukan.
The sixth grade at Leeds took advantage of a beautiful sunny day and participated in an activity designed to help them see what can be learned from shadows. Left to right are Sara Galbraith, Paige Johnson, Julissa McGarvey and Andrea Jorgenson.
Kalvin Slaubaugh, Timber Morgan, Austin Blazer and Carlito Woods look at the shadows.
The shadows provide interesting ideas for Tristan Henderson, Aidan Ritterman, Austin Thorp and Riley Lawrence.
Coal country tour
Senator Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford (center) and Rep. Vonnie Pietsch, R- Casselton (right), toured the energy conversion and emissions control areas at Great River Energy’s Coal Creek Station near Underwood. On the left is Summer Belden, Westmoreland Coal Company manager of contracts and business analysis. A number of legislators and legislative candidates took part in the tour August 19 to get a firsthand look at the lignite industry which generates $103 million in tax revenue annually.
Rices have reunion
Descendants of the late Anna and Herman Rice of Maddock traveled to Gearhart, Ore. the weekend of July 10-13 for a family reunion. Approximately 110 were in attendance, including two of the nine surviving children, Katherine Rice Larson of Goldendale, Wash. and Lucille Rice Larson of Seattle, Wash. Activities included golf, a sand castle contest, bonfires on the beach, an auction cried by John Rice of Maddock, worship on Sunday and a quilt raffle. The quilt, entitled a Rice Family Album, was handmade by Valerie Rice Valentine (Harley Rice’s daughter) of Puyallup, Wash. It featured 138 photos of the family. Kathy Nagel of Bismarck was the winner of the quilt and she presented it to her mother, Diane Smith, also of Bismarck, for her 70th birthday. The next reunion will be held in 2010.
Belle finishes racing season
Tayler Belle, 11, of Langdon finished his fifth motocross racing season August 24 at the Missouri Valley Fairground track in Bismarck. He received the first place trophy in the 65cc class and a fifth place in the 85cc class. Tayler races in the NDMA (North Dakota Motocross Association) circuit and was ranked second in points standing for the 65cc class and sixth in the 85cc class prior to the races in Bismarck.
The Annual NDMA banquet and trophy presentation will be held on October 25th at the Seven Seas Inn in Mandan. Tayler is the son of Rob and Laura Belle of Langdon and the grandson of Ella and Dave Strinden of Leeds.
Hags on Nags ride again
Amidst the pouring rain and marble-sized hail on Saturday, Aug. 2, 19 riders set out on the 6th Annual Hags on Nags all women trail ride. The group departed from the Bob Engkvist farm and rode to Esmond. While in Esmond a special award, "The Hag Handlers," was presented to Dave Abrahamson and Bob Engkvist for their annual support.
From Esmond the group rode to Buffalo Lake where family and friends joined them for grilled burgers and a potluck supper. The annual awards ceremony was held with the reigning "Hag of the Year," Karen Kenner, handing the crown to the new royalty, co-queens Sherri Engkvist and Nancy Abrahamson. Other award winners were Shannon Lauinger, Pokey Pony Award; Robin Arnold, The Hoist Award; Lisa Volk, The Cushie-Tushie Award; Wanda Bullinger, Chief Hag Recruiter; and Jessi Knatterd, Princess Pees-A-Lot.
Ride participants included, back row, left to right, Nancy Coleman, Ann Charette, Dee Dee Knudtson, Lisa Volk, Sherri Engkvist and Kathy Schwab. Middle row: Wanda Bullinger, Karen Kenner, June Olson, Sheila Erickson, LeAnn Ostlie, Nancy Abrahamson and Dawn Sougher. Front row: Arliss Fugere, Shannon Lauinger, Chris Lauinger, Jessi Knatterud, Robin Arnold and Lisa Wentz.