Home Diocesan News N. Canton St. Paul retirees enjoy airport jobs
N. Canton St. Paul retirees enjoy airport jobs Print E-mail
Written by Louise McNulty, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 02 June 2017 13:00

CANTON – Three parishioners from North Canton St. Paul Parish recently took time out from their busy jobs to talk about the perks of retirement.

Yes, they have jobs – and paying ones at that. All three, in fact, work at the Akron-Canton airport. As Bob Morris, who staffs the information desk part-time, says, “The pay is nice, but the prime reason for being here is when you finish a day’s work you can say, ‘I’ve helped someone.’”

Morris was a high pressure boiler operator at Hoover Company before retiring in 2005. For four months he relaxed. But – he adds with a twinkle in his eye – there is just so much togetherness a couple can take. “One day my wife and I decided one of us had to go out and get a job!”

She ended up working in a Hallmark shop and Morris began a seven-and-a-half-year stint as a part-time customer service agent with Frontier Airlines.

When Frontier moved to Cleveland, Morris found a berth at the information desk. The only shift open was from 8 p.m. to midnight and he has stayed in that time slot, finding he likes it.

Morris says he is very happy with his decision to work in retirement. “It gives me the opportunity to do something every day, to get out of the house, to meet lots of people and, first and foremost, it gives me an opportunity to help people, because when people come to the desk, they have a problem.”

Dwayne Saunier, a fellow parishioner, now sees Morris at work as well as at church. For eight years after retiring in 2005 from the Canton Repository, where he was a district sales manager, Saunier and his wife watched their grandchildren “whenever we were needed.”

After that, Saunier found that he “got bored. I was sitting in the recliner too much and I wanted something to do.”

One day, four years ago, when he was dropping his son off at the airport he saw a shuttle bus. “I thought driving one would be a neat job.” So he went into the airport to apply, only to find that there were no openings. But they were hiring skycaps (officially known as personal service assistants or PSAs). Saunier applied and “I got hired that day. I just stumbled into it.”

A skycap primarily “assists people with luggage at the curb and transports people in wheelchairs,” Saunier says. His schedule is one shift from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. and two shifts of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each week.

Like all the skycaps, his pay is lower than minimum wage but he receives tips – his “mad money,” he says with a grin. And the tips can be lucrative. He mentions repeat customers who have given him as much as $40.

Like Morris, Saunier loves the opportunity to help people and interact with them. “When I come home I always have great stories to tell my wife,” he says with a grin, “and she passes them on.”

Saunier’s “boss” at the airport is another person he sees at Mass – John Wooden, supervisor of skycaps (PSAs). Wooden was a small business owner who wanted to be active in his retirement years, so he took a few jobs, most of which he didn’t like. “You know how it is. You ran your own business so you can always see a better or more efficient way to do things,” he says with a smile.

Someone suggested he try the airport. The first time he came in to apply, he was told they weren’t hiring but he could try again. So he came in the next two days in a row, at which point, he says, the woman in human resources sighed and gave him an application.

Wooden was hired to work 4 a.m. to noon four days a week. That was five years ago. For the last three and a half years he has worked full-time as supervisor. “I do the same job as the skycaps, but there are added management duties which include payroll and scheduling.”

He, too, loves working at the airport. And the stories he tells! There was the 93-year-old woman who referred to talking to him (a 75-year-old) as flirting with a “young guy.” And he relates how down-to-earth some celebrities can be. He and Morris got to meet and greet Pro Football Hall of Fame CEO David E. Baker and his wife when they first came to town. Now Baker greets them each by name whenever he sees them at the airport. And the stories go on and on.

All three men say they are glad they got up out of their easy chairs and say they will do it as long as they can. As Morris put it, “Either they’ll have to fire me or take me out in a body bag.”


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