Longtime Summit County employees, with 94 combined years of experience, retire
June 3, 2018
It was all about timing for Ben Blonquist when he decided it was time to step away from one of the only employers he's had in his adult life.
Blonquist, a ground supervisor, recently completed his final shift with Summit County, ending more than 40 years of service. He is the longest-working employee the county has ever had.
"Forty years is quite a while," he said. "I have seen so much change from the beginning to now. The county is going in a different direction than what I am used to. It just seemed like a good time to let someone else take over and have the phone."
Blonquist is one of three longtime county employees who announced their retirements last month. Blonquist, along with Sally Piercy, of the Health Department, and Ronie Sue Wilde, of the county's personnel department, have a combined 94 years of service.
I’ll miss that-- knowing you got to go to work. I never not liked going to work. I wanted to go every day, even with snow on the ground,”Ben Blonquistretired grounds supervisor
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The three were honored on Wednesday at the County Council meeting with proclamations recognizing their retirement and years of service to the county. Some tears were shed and lots of hugs were handed out.
"Your absences are going to leave a big hole," County Council Chair Kim Carson said during the meeting.
Blonquist, a Coalville native, joined the county's public works department in January of 1978 when he was only 21 years old. At the time, there were three public works sheds in the county. He serviced the county's roads, helping plow the snow and laying oil for about 20 years, spending 10 as a supervisor.
He was eventually transferred to the facilities department, working on the county's buildings, mowing lawns, and helping erect and break down the Summit County Fair.
Blonquist said he stayed with his job because of its convenience — close to his home — and his superiors. He added, "They were good to me."
"It was great," he said. "As long as you did your job you had nothing to worry about."
Blonquist was able to raise two kids and welcome four grandkids while on the job. Now that he is retired, he said, he plans to spend more time with his family and going fishing.
But, he admitted, he will miss getting up to go to work in the morning and having a purpose.
"I'll miss that — knowing you got to go to work," he said. "I never not liked going to work. I wanted to go every day, even with snow on the ground."
Blonquist joked, though, that he may not be missed too much because of his proneness to accidents. He fell off both a ladder and a building within the last 10 years, leading to his moniker, "An accident waiting to happen."
"They called me partially bionic from when I fell off of the building and wrecked my shoulder," he said with a laugh. "But, I'm feeling good."
Mike Crystal, facilities director, praised Blonquist for his years of hard work. He said he will be "sorely missed."
"Ben has had integrity and always has showed the most kindness for the residents for 40 years," he said. "Every time you saw the fair become a success, it was because of Ben. He can leave with his head held high because he has done an awesome job for the county and has been a great asset."
While Piercy's children were young, she worked in Salt Lake. But, as soon as a position opened up in the Coalville Office of the Health Department, she immediately applied. She joined the Health Department in 1994 as a clinical assistant.
She eventually became the environmental health secretary, dealing with vital records. Over the years, she has helped people obtain death certificates and receive their immunizations. And she has loved every minute of it.
"I've really enjoyed my position and working with all the people, especially those in need or those who are having issues in life," she said. "I've loved it. I've had mothers call me at home asking when they can get in because Junior needs his shot."
Piercy has always made herself available for North Summit residents, especially the elderly community. She added, "I've always tried to help keep them current on their shots."
She even became known as the "shot lady" to younger children she would see around the community. She recalled a story where a young boy was somewhat scared when he saw her at the grocery store.
"It was funny because he was kind of scared," she said. "But, I've always tried to make the kids feel welcome. I always have suckers and I make them ask me for one before they just take it as a way to try and instill some respect and life lessons on them."
Phil Bondurant, environmental health director and Piercy's supervisor, referred to her as one of the strongholds for the environmental health program. He said her institutional knowledge has been a critical asset to him in particular.
"During the nearly five years I have been here, we have built quite a relationship, both a personal and professional one," he said. "As a result, we have been able to help the program grow and be what it is today. She has been a compassionate and professional stable in the community, especially on the east and northern ends of the county. She has had an impact on people's lives that many people can't say they have had throughout their careers."
Piercy's decision to retire coincides with her husband's retirement a little more than a year ago. She said they bought a motor home and are planning to travel. Their first stop: Disneyland.
"When I grow up, I want to be the fairy godmother," she said.
Wilde, a lifelong Kamas Valley resident, secured her spot in the auditor's department in 1987 as chief deputy. She met her husband, Clint, while working for the county, and eventually welcomed two daughters.
Wilde transferred to the personnel department in 1998 and began working as a benefits administrator. She helped implement the Summit County Healthcare group and worked judiciously to reduce costs to county employees' retirement benefits, according to the county proclamation.
Wilde became choked up while the County Council members recognized her for her more than 30 years of service.
"It has been my pleasure working with the administration," she said.