Percy Daniels has worked for the Gary Public Transportation Corp. so long he actually pre-dates it, getting his start with the predecessor company, Gary Transit, Inc., in the 1960s.
After more than 56 years at the bus service, the longtime parts manager in the maintenance department is finally retiring. His longtime employer plans to honor him by naming a bus after him.
"We want to do something special for his retirement, but the pandemic doesn't let us bring everybody together," General Manager Jerome Parker said. "He's been here long before I started in 1979. He's been doing the same job for a number of years. I've always been impressed with his dedication."
Daniels worked as parts manager, managing the inventory, ordering new parts and supplying the parts needed to maintain Gary Public Transportation's fleet of buses. Daniels, who has been in the hospital and was not available for comment, also served as a union representative for the Amalgamated Transit Union.
"I could always approach him as a manager and talk to him about disciplinary issues to resolve them before they became major," Parker said. "He was always willing to work with management to make sure all employees are happy campers."
Carol Douglas, the union head and a parts driver, said Daniels will be missed both at the workplace and the union hall.
"He was a very good treasurer who did his job perfectly," she said. "It will be hard to fill his shoes. He was very efficient and loves his job."
Douglas remembers "a sweetheart who treated her like a brother."
"He's been here so long. You always see him on the computer. He loves his job. He's a treasure," Douglas said.
Gary Public Transportation Corp. Human Resources Director Jocqueline Protho said Daniels was an institution at the bus service, which runs about a dozen routes through the city of Gary, as well as Calumet Township, Crown Point, East Chicago, Griffith, Hammond, Highland, Hobart, Merrillville and Munster.
"He's officially been here 56 years," she said. "He's been here longer than the building and the furniture. Everybody at our facility and where he sits every day from six in the morning until three. He has a really good relationship with everyone."
He started in maintenance and worked his way up to being parts manager, a position he held for decades.
"He's one of the nicest people I've worked with," Protho said. "He was very friendly and very personable. He was very approachable. Nobody ever said a bad word about him. He always had a smile on his face. He always gave his 100%. I don't think he he ever wanted to leave as far as I know."
Maintenance Secretary Shirley Host said Daniels was family to everyone in the department.
"He always made sure to procure the parts needed for the buses to operate," she said. "It was a vital job. He has a lot of knowledge he'll take with him. I'll miss him. He's family. It will be strange to not see him at the office, at the bus depot."
Daniels was a fixture who worked while a little TV played "All My Children" or another soap opera in the background.
"He's a very warm person," she said. "He was very open and warm. He never changed. I feel like he had known me forever."
Region restaurants that closed in 2020
Region restaurants that closed in 2020
2020 has been a hard year for restaurants in the Region with the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns and restrictions that followed. Here's a look at the restaurants, brewpubs and chain eateries Northwest Indiana lost in one of the toughest years in recent memory:
The reason why Bakers Square abruptly shuttered its restaurants in Lansing and Merrillville over the weekend has come to light.
3 Floyds told investors it is permanently closing its landmark brewpub in Munster, which has been a major draw to Northwest Indiana.
The owner of the Schererville and Merrillville Golden Corrals faces a murder charge in a cold case killing of a Missouri teen who was found in a drainage ditch with two gunshot wounds to the head.
There's no more going back for seconds or thirds at the Old Country Buffet in Highland.
Figure Eight Brewing, a staple of downtown Valparaiso for a decade, plans to close in two weeks.
Yats Creole and Cajun restaurant geaux out of business after after six years in Valparaiso.
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in another permanent closure of a Region restaurant.
The authentic southern-style barbecue restaurant, one of the first to deliver food to local hospitals and first responders during the pandemic, is temporarily closing its locations in Dyer, Mokena, Milwaukee and Madison.
Four Winds Casino New Buffalo will replace The Hard Rock Cafe with Kankakee Grille, which will feature live music and modern comfort food.
Aspen Cafe closes after 30 years in St. John, the Pancake Club closes in Schererville, Pita Stop coming to Dyer
The Stacked Pickle restaurant chain that former Indianapolis Colts player Gary Brackett was trying to expand to Northwest Indiana and the south suburbs has fallen victim to the coronavirus pandemic.
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Q-BBQ closed, Chunky Tacos, Dunkin, Andrade Nails, NorthShore Health Centers, and Direct Mortgage Loans opening
Smoothie King comes to Crown Point, Kowloon and Canton House close, Caribbean jerk restaurant coming, Burger King getting rebuilt
NWI Business Ins and Outs: Domino's coming to Hobart, American Sale closes after 50 years in Lansing, sushi place comes to Winfield, and Troost closes
Pancakes are about to go global in Schererville.