Few employees make have made a mark as big as Tommy Whetsel’s. “He’s just attracted to people, and people are attracted to him,” said Tom Johnson, life long friend of Whetsel.
“You can’t tell that he’s as old as he is because he is a worker, he still goes all out, keeps working day after day,” said County Market Store Director, Don Roe. At age 69 and after 51 years working in Ogle County grocery stores, Tommy Whetsel retired on December 30th.
His last day however was far from ordinary. “The Ogle County Board, in celebration of Tommy’s work retirement hereby designates that his last day of work, December 30th, 2016, shall be recognized as Tommy Whetsel Day in all of Ogle County,” said Ogle County Board Chairman Kim Gouker.
It takes a lot to have a day dedicated to you, and people have said Tommy is the definition of perserverance. A childhood head injury left him developmentally disabled, but he overcame adversity to make a significant impact on Byron and its people.
“It is important to give back to people who give to our community, and Tommy has given so much, so this is the least that we can do,” added Gouker.
Friends and fellow employees of Tommy gathered at the County Market in Byron that he worked at for 33 years. They met promptly at 9am during his usual break to celebrate a milestone. His lifelong friend and break buddy Tom Johnson wasn’t going to miss it.
“Comes as no suprise to me whatsever, Tommy knows everybody in Byron, he’s always the first one to say hi when they come in the door,” said Johnson.
“No one can replace Tommy, I know people say that, but just his smile, his personality, not just the other employees like Tommy, there’s many customers that are going to miss him. His personality is that much better than his work ethic, he is always there for you,” added Roe.
Tommy plans to spend his free time watching the Cubs and walking on Byron High Schools track.