By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN After 35 years, Ed Williams will be retiring from Delano Municipal Utilities.
In the beginning, he was busy running diesel engines at the power plant. At that time, much of Delano’s electric system was overhead, strings of wire across intersections and down alleys.
With eight employees and five generators, the plant easily carried the town of approximately 1,950.
Much of Delano’s electric system is now underground, and there is a total of eight generators that can carry a town twice the current size of Delano.
After being in engine operation, Williams moved to lineman, and then became the foreman. He remained in this position for 21 years.
“When I started, the power lines were 90 percent overhead, and 10 percent underground,” remembered Williams. “Now, it has done a complete turn-about, with 90 percent underground, and 10 precent overhead.”
The water system has gone through many changes, as well. The 500,000-gallon stand-pipe water tower was built in 1969 on the hill behind the high school, and was replaced with a new 1.5 million-gallon water tower on the west side of town. The new water treatment plant was installed in 2006.
Williams graduated from Delano High School in 1966, and in May 1968, was drafted into the Army.
“In Vietnam, with the 577th Combat Engineers, we performed line work and electrical duties,” he said. “We’d go out in the the jungle, in the middle of nowhere, and set up base camps for the artillery.”
Once he returned from the service, he married his wife, Pat (Patrice Johnson), also a lifelong Delano resident, May 30, 1970. Coincidentally, their daughter, Taunya, will share their anniversary when she is married next year.
Children have kept him busy over the years five of them, in fact Tina (Cummings), Travis, Tory, Trevor, and Taunya. Eight grandchildren have been added to the family, as well.
Initially, Williams was unsure about retiring this year, but when an unfortunate accident took the life of his son-in-law, Ricky Cummings, recently, he knew it was time.
“When that happened,” he said. “I just knew I was needed in another place. I didn’t question it anymore and it was time to retire.”
He looks forward to spending time with his grandchildren and helping his children with their household projects.
“I am a jack-of-all-trades,” he said, adding with a laugh, “but master of none.”
Surely, he will still be found bowling Wednesday nights, something he has done for the past 35 years, and still loves to do.
Williams is a member of the Minnesota Street Rod Association, and will soon have his 1948 Ford Coupe complete, a project he has been working on for 14 years.
This past summer, he was involved in the Highway 12 reconstruction project, overseeing all of Park Construction’s water crews and inspecting their work. It’s hard to know what Williams will be doing after November.
“One thing I know,” he said. “is this winter, we’ll go to our timeshare in sunny Mazatlan, just like every year, and I definitely won’t be working out in the cold anymore.”
The community is invited to a retirement dinner party honoring Willims at the Delano American Legion Tuesday, Nov. 18. Social time begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.
Dinner tickets are $15 per person, and money needs to be in the Delano Municipal Utilities office at 11 Bridge Ave. West by 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 7. Contact the utilities office for further information at (763) 972-0557.
“Ed’s knowledge and expertise will be greatly missed,” said Mark Davis from Delano Municipal Utilities. “We wish Ed the best in his retirement.”