A November 17 tornado outbreak in Central Illinois destroyed much in its path and scattered personal possessions for miles. Numerous Caterpillar employees were among those impacted by the storm and its devastation.
A week after recovery efforts began, Washington, Ill., resident and Caterpillar Global Purchasing employee Jaime Milestone and her husband were cleaning up their heavily damaged property. Milestone’s car was a total loss. As they cleared the debris, Milestone’s husband noticed something gleaming from under the damaged vehicle. What the couple found was a Caterpillar 35-year service anniversary ring. Retirement gifts, such as rings, were made available to U.S. employees as part of an improvement to the service program in 1996.
Milestone reached out to Megan Parsons in Global Purchasing Human Resources to help find the ring’s owner. The only clue they had to go on was an inscription on the ring -- the initials “P.M.W.” Parsons and Linda Hill of Caterpillar Shared Services worked together and, within minutes, successfully found the ring’s owner: Pat Welch, who retired from Global Purchasing in June.
On December 12, Welch returned to Mossville, Ill., to meet the person responsible for locating his priceless possession that he feared was lost forever.
“I just can’t believe that it landed in another [Global] Purchasing employee’s yard”, said Megan Parsons. The ring was bent, but not broken, much like the spirit of all those who were impacted by the devastation of November 17. Global Purchasing replaced Welch’s 35-year service anniversary ring, retirement gift and service anniversary pins lost in the tornado.
As a result of the storm, Welch’s home was a complete loss, as was his two-week-old truck. He plans to rebuild his home in Washington and is currently renting until the construction is complete.