BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
After 54 years of work in the labor force, 31 of those with Johnson Controls, James Bays retired April 19. On James Bays reflects on work and family at retirement party
April 20, family, friends and former co-workers joined him at the Hilton Garden Inn in Perrysburg to celebrate his retirement.
There, the honoree and those in attendance viewed a slide show of Bays when he first entered the work force as a McDonald’s employee; spending more than 18 years with the fast food giant.
Also, fond memories and words of affection would be shared about the man of the hour.
Perhaps, more excited than Bays about his retirement, was his high school sweetheart and wife of 47 years, Stephanie Bays.
“As a friendly reminder, I will be pulling the plug on the alarm clock and taking the phone off the hook on Sunday night,” she jokingly informed his co-workers while speaking about her husband.
Stephanie Bays told The Toledo Journal, “We’ve waited a long time to enjoy these years together. Every job he had he always worked 12 to 14 hours a day. The past five years, he worked seven days a week. So this is going to be like a second honeymoon.”
One-by-one, James Bays’ children approached the podium and shared their memories of their dad.
“Daddy, I thank you for providing for us and supporting us at our track meets,” said his daughter, Tonya Collins.
“Thank you dad for your hard work and putting food on the table and a roof over our heads. I love you for it,” expressed his son, James Bays III.
His daughter Stephanie Bays wrote an emotional felt poem entitled “I celebrate you,” which moved her to tears while reading it.
James Bays’ oldest daughter, Ida Lynne Williamson, could hardly express her appreciation and love for her dad without crying.
“While at work, he really set a good example for many of the employees on work ethics,” stated Kevin Williamson, supervisor at Johnson Controls, as well as son-in-law to James Bays.
“It feels wonderful to finally retire after so many years,” James Bays expressed. “Although I initially said I didn’t want a party, I’m thankful and appreciative that my family did give me one.”
Besides spending more time with his wife and 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, Bays divulged that he’s looking forward to spending more time collecting toys.
“But my next stop in retirement is a cruise with my wife,” he shared.
“My husband has set the standard very high in regards to providing for his family. You would be hard pressed to find another man like him,” asserted his wife, Stephanie Bays.