After 30 years working for Village of Dexter, Ed Lobdell calls it a day
Lisa Allmendinger | For AnnArbor.com
“The village couldn’t ask for a more dedicated and reliable employee,” said Donna Dettling, village manager. “You could set your clock by Ed’s arrival at the Wastewater Treatment Plant every day.”
During his 30 years working for the village, Lobdell adapted “to anything that was thrown at him,” the village manager said.
As one of his last tasks in the field, Lobdell and Danny Schlaff, a longtime employee, headed off to check on the progress of the village’s new well located by Dexter High School last Friday afternoon.
They made the left onto Dexter-Chelsea Road, then Schlaff took a quick left into the American Legion parking lot where friends, family and coworkers had planned a surprise retirement party for the 30-year employee.
Schlaff started working for Lobdell when he was 18 years old. That was 25 years ago.
“I told him on the way here that I don’t think bosses get any better,” Schlaff said, adding, “He raised me right; he’s been like a family member and he will be missed.”
Inside the American Legion building, it was a celebration honoring a hometown boy, who began working for the village reading water meters with a pad and pencil in 1980.
The 1968 graduate of Dexter High School rose through the ranks, working for the wastewater treatment plant until 1994 when he was named superintendent of wastewater and water. In 2004, he was named public services superintendent and added overseeing the Department of Public Works to his job description.
Dettling said he should be proud of the fact that he will leave the village in a better position than he found it.
“It has been my pleasure to work with Ed for the past 10 years,” she said. “He will be missed.”
Dettling’s sentiments were echoed by Allison Bishop, director of community development for the village, who has worked with Lobdell for the last 10 years.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with Ed,” she said, “We’ll miss his institutional knowledge of the village and his cooperative project collaboration.”
Council member Donna Fisher remembered playing with Lobdell on the playground when they were growing up. “He’s always been a great guy and he’s the kind of person who’s comfortable to be around.”
Lobdell said a lot of things had changed during his tenure.
“I will miss everyone - they’re top-notch employees and I’ve got a lot of fun memories,” Lobdell said.
The 2004 blackout that lasted more than 40 hours was one event he won’t soon forget. Lobdell said he worked a full day and then the power went out and he and Schlaff ran generators from lift station to lift station throughout the village to keep the water flowing and sewers working.
“It’s a tribute to the village that he’d stay for 30 years with the organization,” said Jim Carson, a village council member. “His commitment to the village is unprecedented.”
Paul Cousins, another council member, said he was probably the one person who talked to Lobdell all the time. “I’d show up and find out first-hand what was going on - whether it was streets or water or sewer.”
“I’ll miss him personally and the village will really miss him,” Cousins said.
Lobdell and his wife, Nancy, who have been married for 21 years, Lobdell have four children and three grandchildren. He plans to eventually move to northern Michigan where he has property. But he's in no hurry.
“I really don’t have any immediate big plans for retirement,” he said.