Centenarian Celebrations

Stephen Kostek

Submitted by Brian Belluomini, Dow/Carbide Retiree Corps Phoenix, AZ Chapter President

Stephen Kostek, a former Union Carbide (Linde) employee, was recognized and congratulated on his 100th birthday at his home in Mesa, Arizona. Brian Belluomini, Dow/Carbide Retiree Corps Phoenix, AZ Chapter President, personally presented Steve with congratulatory letters from Executive Chairman of DowDuPont™, and Chairman and CEO of Dow, Andrew Liveris, CRC President David Clash, and CRC Western Regional Director Mike Gaston. Steve’s son and daughter-in-law were present, having flown in from their home in Florida several days earlier. The grandchildren had also just visited from out-of-state.

Steve was a machinist in Fontana, CA and then at the Ontario, CA plant which repaired and refurbished the large gas turbines that produced nitrogen, oxygen and other gasses for the UCC Linde Division. He retired in 1995 and moved to Mesa, AZ after 14 years with Linde.


Tazewell W. Saunders

Submitted by Ed Ballard, Central Region Director, Carbide Retiree Corps

My wife and I were privileged to attend a party honoring Tazewell Saunders’ 100th birthday at the First Missionary Baptist Church in London, WV. The church was filled with friends and relatives. Tazewell is a “cornerstone” having served in about every capacity. Currently he is a deacon (the oldest active deacon in West Virginia). Friends and family shared reflections, and paid tribute to his service in the church and community. I had the honor of presenting the blanket with the Union Carbide logo and letters of recognition for his service at the Alloy Plant.

My wife and I had visited with Tazewell earlier. That meeting was reminiscent of all Centenarians we have met. He, like all others, had an amazing story to tell. It is a treat to meet and share their stories. Tazewell is one of ten children. He went to school in Montgomery, WV, played football, and was nicknamed “Pig.” He married Evelyn Jackson in 1939 and they had three children. Their son and one daughter live here and the other daughter lives in Georgia. Evelyn passed away January 7, 2016. The family must have good genes, as we met one of his sisters and were surprised she was 98.

He is one of a diminishing group, WWII veterans. He served in the Army and was in England and France. He had some interesting stories about his experiences while guarding POWs. After the war he joined Union Carbide at the Alloy Plant and retired after 33 years. Tazewell is active in the church and sings with the choir. He is very independent and still feels he can cut the grass and climb on the roof and in his attic. These activities have been banned since he fell from the attic a couple of years ago. He was battered a bit, but was back in shape shortly.

It has always been a good adventure meeting and talking with Centenarians and Tazewell added another great experience. His motto is “a hug a day makes my day.”


Virginia Rea

Submitted by John Durkin, Director Midwest Region, CRC

Virginia Rea was born near Greenwood, IN, south of Indianapolis. She attended a one room country school through sixth grade then transferred to Whiteland School graduating in 1933 as the valedictorian of her class. She graduated from Central Business College in Indianapolis and secured a job as secretary to the payroll auditor of a large insurance company until 1939 when she married Richard R. Rea. At that time she had to resign, as it was company policy not to employ married women. In 1944, her family moved to Russiaville, IN where her husband became superintendent of a local school.

She began her employment with Carbide’s Haynes Stellite Company in 1948 in Kokomo, IN and became secretary to the president in 1954. In 1970, she was promoted to salary coordinator making her the first female promoted to a management position. She was also the Equal Employment Opportunity manager. She retired in 1979 after 30 years with the company.

Virginia and her husband traveled extensively, visiting Europe (seven times), China, South America and Africa. They were accompanied on each trip by two grandchildren. She celebrated her 100th birthday with a gathering of over 100 close friends and relatives at her assisted living residence in Kokomo, IN.

It is interesting to note that Virginia is the fifth Carbide retiree from the Kokomo area to celebrate their 100th birthday in the last few years!


Eugene Foster

Submitted by Ed Ballard, Regional Director, Carbide Retiree Corps (CRC)

On May 28, 2017, the First Presbyterian Church of Fayetteville, West Virginia hosted a celebration of Eugene Foster’s 100th birthday. “Frosty,” as Eugene is known, has been a member of the church for 61 years. My wife and I attended the celebration, and I presented Frosty with the traditional Carbide blanket and letters of recognition from Dave Clash, president of CRC, and Andrew Liveris, Executive Chairman of DowDuPont™, and Chairman and CEO of Dow.

Frosty was born in Hinton, West Virginia. He began working for UCC at the Alloy (Glen Ferry) Plant. He was the “in-plant railroad engineer” moving materials in the plant throughout his career, which was interrupted for a stint in the Army during World War II. He lived in Boomer, West Virginia until 1956 when he and his wife moved into a new house in Fayetteville.

Soon after moving to Fayetteville, Frosty and his wife became active in the church. He participated in many different functions and his wife was a Sunday School teacher. Frosty also worked for the local funeral home. He started in 1967 and continued until 2014. Although he was classified as part-time, he was on call and responded to most calls anytime of day.

Frosty still likes to visit with others about Carbide. As we talked that day, we found there were several people we knew or other centenarians, whom we had both met before. There is a common thread with the centenarians. Carbide was a good place to work and they all continue to contribute. Frosty adds to the list.


Jim Hildebrand

Submitted by Ed Ballard, Regional Director, Carbide Retiree Corps (CRC)

On May 21, 2017, friends and family gathered to celebrate Jim Hildebrand’s 100th birthday. Jim has lived in St. Albans, West Virginia, all his life – and 98 years on the same street.

Jim began his career in Union Carbide’s R&D lab in 1935. He remained in R&D as a chemical analyst throughout his career, working in all three locations in the Kanawha Valley during his 47-year career. He was deferred from military service during World War II because of his work. Jim was involved with some cutting edge projects such as the “coal hydrogeneration project” and early agriculture products. One of his coworkers from his early career was Birney Mason, who became CEO of UCC.

Jim and his wife had one son, Tom, who attended West Virginia University and became a medical doctor. Tom married and moved to New Jersey, where he and his wife raised three sons and a daughter. Tom’s daughter and Jim’s granddaughter also became a doctor. All of Jim’s grandchildren and great grandchildren were at the party when he
was presented the traditional Carbide blanket and letters of recognition from Dave Clash, president of CRC and Andrew Liveris, Executive Chairman of DowDuPont™, and Chairman and CEO of Dow. It was a pleasure to be included in the celebration.

Jim is still actively involved with his family and community. Jim adds to the legacy of the centenarians, who tell us amazing stories about their pioneering work in the chemical industry’s early days. We are indebted to them for their perseverance and hard work.


Hubert L. Barnett

Submitted by Bob Eagar, Director, South Region CRC

On August 14, 2016, Hugh Barnett celebrated his 100th birthday! He celebrated with family and friends at his retirement community in Maryville, TN. Hugh, an engineer from the University of Mississippi, began his career with Remington Arms in Connecticut. As ammunition exceeded projected demand, Remington agreed to have Hugh interview with Union Carbide. This led to his assignment to design and staff the maintenance department of the gaseous diffusion technology for the enrichment of uranium. He worked at Oak Ridge at the K-25 unit from initial construction in 1944 to 1960. He then transferred to the Y-12 enrichment unit. In 1966, he transferred to the Ferroalloy Plant in Kokomo, IN and retired from Union Carbide after this plant was sold.

Hugh is very active and still manages to exercise in the gym six days a week. He has a great sense of humor and has many entertaining tales! While he carries a cane, he mostly uses it as a pointer for emphasis! Hugh and his family were very happy to have Carbider Bob Eagar, CRC Director for the South Region, join in the celebration.

As part of the celebration, Hugh was given a gift and congratulatory letters from Executive Chairman of DowDuPont™, and Chairman and CEO of Dow, Andrew Liveris and Dave Clash, CRC president.


Hurshel Boggs

Submitted by Ed Ballard, Regional Director, Carbide Retiree Corps

My wife and I met retiree Hurshel Boggs in 2016, when I presented him with the traditional Carbide blanket and letters of recognition from Dave Clash, president of CRC and Andrew Liveris, executive chairman of DowDuPont™, and chairman and CEO of Dow, in celebration of his 100th birthday. Hurshel is an outstanding man whose life would make an interesting book.

Hurshel was born in Second Creek, West Virginia, and was one of 19 children, eight of whom are still living. His father, Marshal, ran a saw mill. All nine of the Boggs sons worked at the saw mill, forming a strong work ethic that served them well in life. Hurshel loves motorcycles, riding from his high school days until his 90s. When he was 92 years old, he rode about 100 miles to visit his sister.

Hurshel joined the Navy in 1941 and served on the aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill. In May 1945 during the battle of Okinawa, the Bunker Hill was hit by two Japanese Kamikaze attacks. Hurshel was stationed in the boiler room and worked tirelessly to save his fellow sailors. A total of 372 men were lost and 264 wounded. Hurshel received an Admiral Citation for his rescue efforts.

Hurshel and his wife had two children, Mildred and Dale. Mildred was born while he was at sea and he did not see her until she was 18 months old. After the war, Hurshel went to work for Union Carbide and enjoyed a 35-year career. He is still in good health, is very sociable, and quite talkative. We congratulate Hurshel on this milestone birthday and thank him for his service to our country and company.


Mary Bochenski

Submitted by Brian Belluomini, Dow / Carbide Retiree Corps Phoenix, AZ Chapter President

In recognition of her 100th birthday, I met with Mary Bochenski, who resides at an assisted living facility in Sun City, AZ. We had a very nice visit, during which Mary recalled how much she enjoyed her years at Union Carbide.

She joined UCC in 1940 and spent the majority of her career in Chicago in the division that was most recently called Films Packaging. She referred to this as the “skinless sausage” or food casing business, which UCC had acquired from Visking Corporation. She later worked in Canada for UCC. Mary retired in the early 1970s, a few years before her 65th birthday. Her nephew, Gene, and his wife, Jeanine, live nearby in Surprise, AZ and help take care of some of her affairs.

She really appreciated the congratulatory letters and blanket with the UCC logo, and thanked everyone for their thoughtfulness.


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