Created on Wednesday, 26 December 2012 Written by JIM MacKINNON,Akron Beacon Journal
AKRON, Ohio (AP) — In July 1898, F.A. Seiberling hired Ed Hippensteal to start cleaning up an old strawboard factory in Akron to turn it into the first home for the still unincorporated Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Fourth generation Goodyear employee Ed Rueschman photographed next to a plaque on the clock tower on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012 in Akron, Ohio. Frank Seiberling hired his great grandfather Ed Hippensteal in 1898 as Goodyear's first employee. (AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal, Phil Masturzo)
Hippensteal and 12 others, including Seiberling, are memorialized in a plaque on the Goodyear clock tower off East Market Street as one of the "Old Guard" — the original 13 employees of Goodyear, all hired before 1900.
Fast-forward 114 years: On Dec. 31, Hippensteal's great-grandson, Ed Rueschman, is taking a buyout and will retire from Goodyear after more than 46 years with the Akron tire maker.
Rueschman, like his father, grandfather and namesake great-grandfather, all worked for Goodyear. You could say Goodyear, through its first hired employee, Hippensteal, has been a four-generation family business ever since that day in 1898.
The four men have 163 years of combined service, said Rueschman, 65, who lives in Uniontown.
"I'm amazed I was able to be a part of that," said Rueschman. The Steelworker drives trucks, picking up and delivering parts as part of his responsibilities in maintenance.
He started in 1965, just three weeks after graduating from Ellet High School. His father had suggested he take a job with Goodyear.
"I was thinking of more of a truck driving career" at the time, Rueschman said. But he agreed to apply at Goodyear and soon started working a midnight factory shift. His work at Goodyear was interrupted in 1967, when he entered the Army and served in the infantry in Vietnam, returning to civilian life in Akron about two years later.
Rueschman did not know about his family's connection to Goodyear's founding until much later in life.
"I just knew my dad and my grandpa worked here," he said.
But in the 1980s his great-aunt told him that his great-grandfather, on his mother's side, was the very first person hired at Goodyear.
"She brought out all these pictures," Rueschman said. "I had no idea. ... As time went on, I learned the history. I thought, wow, it's going to be something if I can stay, complete the cycle."
His great-grandfather worked for Goodyear from 1898 to the year he died, 1946, for 48 years of service. The book The Goodyear Story mentions Hippensteal and includes pictures of his great-grandfather. Rueschman was born the year after his great-grandfather died.
His grandfather, John F. Rueschman, worked at Goodyear from 1915 to 1948, and his father, John L., started at Goodyear in 1941. All four men worked factory jobs.
Goodyear noted Rueschman's family history in 1998 when it rededicated the clock tower with the original "Old Guard" plaque that had been lost for years, likely removed after a fire in 1984. The plaque was found inside a remote section of Goodyear's Plant One building in time for the ceremony that year.
Rueschman said he and his father worked the same factory shift and went to and from work together for years.
"My dad retired in 1977. Been carrying it on since then," Rueschman said.
All told, he will have 46 years and five months of service with Goodyear, he said.
"I've had 10 different jobs at Goodyear since I started in '65," he said.
His family plans to host a retirement party for him.
Rueschman said his retirement plans include traveling as well as catching up on the "honey do" list at home. His vacation travels in years past have taken him to Alaska, Oregon and Arizona and as far as Australia.
Rueschman noted that his family's generational streak at Goodyear ends with him. Neither his son nor his stepsons plan to work at the tire company, he said. He called it the end of a personal era.
It's too bad his father, grandfather and great-grandfather won't be able to see him retire, he said.
"I just wish they could see where history led to," Rueschman said. "I was able to complete it, continue it. A very enjoyable trip."