By Kelsie Hoitomt
When Wally Waters, Jr. was in high school, he worked at the Glenwood City Tribune for a year or two, helping along side Ross DeWitt and his wife Lucille and their son Carlton.
It was the late 1960s so the paper was put together by hand, which gave Wally a good idea on how to do type setting and removal and run presses.
In 1968, Wally graduated from the Glenwood City High School and he left the Tribune for a job at National Checking Company in St. Paul.
He was 18 years old at the time and a lot of things were about to happen. Wally graduated in May, got married, started the new job in August and had his first son in October.
After four or five months at National Checking and working at the jogging table and doing stitching and making $2.11 an hour, Wally thought about quitting.
Well just in the knick of time, he was offered a different position within the company: a press job.
From that moment on, Wally worked as a pressman running the tables and machines for 45 and a half years, working his way up to being the Printing Press Operator and union member of Local 1-M.
Aside from one other gentleman, Wally is the only person to have that many years in at National Checking.
At that time, Wally’s job was to print guest checks. In the early 70s that green slip of paper given to you at the restaurant was not too common.
However, by the late 70’s it was all the rage and Wally was busier than ever. National Checking became an iconic company for making some of the first guest checks as it was so unknown in the beginning.
“To NCCO, Wally is iconic as the green guest check, and his sunny disposition will be missed by his co-workers,” shared Dana Bloyer, NCCO Human Resources Manager.
Over the years, the guest check evolved into a white register roll, which is seen all over the world today at taverns, restaurants, shopping malls, gas stations, etc.
Wally has been the man behind the change and behind the making of that white paper roll. He himself has had to evolve over the years as well.
“It has changed so much,” said Wally. “It was rock caveman work to newer machines every ten years. We always had to step up and stay with the times.”
Wally said that 46 years has flown by and that he still feels like he is an 18 year old just starting out, which seems to be a good sign that he truly enjoyed what he did for so many years.
“Over the years, he has worn many hats. In addition to his press duties, Wally has been the company gardener and chef. Many mornings he would be frying eggs and bacon at his press bench for everyone to enjoy or tending to the garden located behind the building,” shared Bloyer.
Wally has three children, Troy, Tammi and Chad. Chad and his wife have two children as well, Olivia and Sam.
Wally’s one son lives in Arizona and he is now looking forward to visiting and spending time down in the warm weather over the winter months.
In retirement, he also plans to do as much traveling as he can.
“Westward bound I am,” he said.
The rest of Wally’s family resides around this area and his mom, Olga still lives in Glenwood City. His father, Wally Sr. passed away last year.
The National Checking Company celebrated Wally’s years of service last Friday, February 27 with a luncheon in his honor.