Doris Harakay, an employee at the GE Aviation site in Vandalia, Ohio, will celebrate a very special work anniversary on February 21st — her 70th year of working at the facility.
Harakay’s career started at the age of 18 with the Leland Electric Company in Dayton, Ohio. In 1952, Leland was taken over by American Machine & Foundry Co., which made bowling pins, gas pumps, cash registers, and even Harley Davidson motorcycle parts. In 1957, Leland relocated to the current Vandalia facility. And in 1978, it was acquired and renamed Leland Electrosystems by its owner, Jerry Fahringer, who was a true aviation enthusiast, and its path to becoming a GE Aviation Systems site was set.
There are now about 350 people working on electrical power systems at the 240,000 square foot facility across several key platforms, including F-18, Apache, Hawk/Triton, 777/777X, CH-47 and C-130J.
Through all of that change, the one constant was Harakay.
During her staggering 70 year career, Harakay has had many different roles. Her favorite among them all though is in the stock room, where she has worked for 34 years. Though her trusty pencil and paper has long since been replaced by a computer, Harakay says the stock room is lovely place to work.
So lovely, in fact, that she has no plans to retire.
“As long as my health holds up, I’m planning on staying. I like to keep busy,” she says.
A lot has changed in aviation over the course of the last 70 years, and Harakay enjoys the front row seat.
“Everything is getting faster and better,” she says. “We get tickets to the local air shows each year and get to see what we do up close. It’s so rewarding and the people in the industry are amazing.”
Naturally, Harakay has many great memories from her career, but the most enjoyable was her 65th work anniversary. She was able to celebrate the occasion with family and friends, and joining them were officials from the Governor’s Office as well as Congressmen, and she notes she even received a letter from then President Barack Obama.
While Doris has no plans to retire, she muses on what her legacy may be when she decides to finally hang up her badge.
“I hope people know I tried to do a good job,” she says, before going on to joke, “Though I think some will remember me as the work grandma and resident candy lady!”
Harakay’s colleagues note how hard-working, driven and determined she is, adding that Harakay,” keeps everyone on their toes, even the younger employees.”
Jesse Baker, Plant Leader at Vandalia, further explains the impact Harakay has had on the site.
“I’ve had the great privilege of knowing Doris for 19 years and can tell you that she has just as much attitude, energy and charm today as she did back then,” he says. “I can’t imagine any of us trying to keep up with her 70 years ago! She is an inspiration to us all and has touched so many lives over her many years in the workforce.”
Just as Harakay is so clearly valued by her colleagues, it is clear that she too cherishes her work family, both past and present. To her, doing a good job is key, but it’s also important to enjoy what you do and have fun with your colleagues.
“All of us in the stockroom love to get together and talk,” says says. “It’s really important to have friends, even at work. Family and health are everything. As long as I have both of those, I will keep on going. I’m doing it for me, my three children, seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. My time here allowed me to support my family when they were young and then help them out in later years. I’m incredibly lucky.”
And GE Aviation is very lucky to have her too.