“Corky,” Edwin Mortimer has been a fixture of the Centralia Parks Department for almost a decade.
During the sunny weather Centralia experienced the week of January 24, people driving up and down Lakeview Street would have seen Mortimer.
He was clearing the fence-row across the street from the Centralia Recreation Center.
“He’s a ball of fire,” said Parks Director Erle Bennett. “There’s almost no job I could give him that he wouldn’t try to take on and there’s a few I‘ve had to talk him out of.”
Pausing from cutting a thick, gnarly vine away from the woven-wire fence, Mortimer reluctantly set down his clippers for a moment and said he’s been working for the parks department between 10 and 12 years, “I don’t really think about it much,” he said, “it’s been quite a while and I like it.”
He said he hired on with the department at the suggestion of his friend, former city worker Raymond Nichols.
“It was not long after I had retired from AB Chance/Hubbell and was looking for something to do,” he said when asked how he became the park department’s Jack of all trades. “I mentioned something to Raymond Nichols. He said to talk to Coach Enlow. All the kids had gone back to school and there was a lot of mowing to be done. The next thing I knew I was mowing.”
His road to the mower was not a short one.
He worked for two area manufacturers before the park department.
First National Refractories where he set brick in the dry-press department, the back to Centralia for Hubbell/Chance.
Though he started out in the Chance anchor assembly department, transferring to the sales department and performing sales correspondence after 30 days.
He retired from there after ?? years and has been with the parks ever since.
“I like it all,” he said of working for the parks department, “I love mowing.”
He said what started as mowing-season job has turned in to a year-round full-time occupation.
When not working for the parks, he likes to tinker in his shop for fun, something he said he hopes to catch up on.
“I need to make time to clean it out,” he said picking up his brush cutter, “I’ve got some projects I want to start on.”
He does have a life outside the park department and shop though. Corky and his wife Barbara have been married 61 years and have two daughters, five grandchildren and four great grandchildren, “including a set of twins, he said smiling as he talked about his great-grandchildren.
His parting advice when asked what the secret to a happy and successful career at work was simple and straightforward.
“Be polite and just do what the boss says.”