Archive for May, 2007

Wayne Honors Employee with Heart Awareness Campaign

May 2, 2007

**Originally printed in the Waterloo Courier**

CEDAR FALLS — Things had been looking up for Russ Petersen and his buddies at Wayne Engineering.

After months of uncertainty, the company was out of bankruptcy, with a new owner and a new lease on life.

“We already feel like family here. We’re hoping for a good 2007 and a good future with them,” Petersen told the Courier.

The future, however, is promised to no one. Russ died of a heart attack at work March 15. He was 50.

“Russ was probably the most well-liked person in the plant. Everybody loved the guy,” company president Kevin Watje said. “It wasn’t just on the job. He was well liked by his neighbors. Very charitable, very generous with himself off the job. He’ll be missed. He was just a very well-liked man.”

Russ’s brother, Allen, also works there.

“In my career as a manager, I always assumed something of this nature would happen. When it does happen it’s real frustrating and real shocking to you,” Watje said.

He is convinced that Petersen’s death, like the heart-related deaths of a lot individuals, was “a shame because it was so preventable” with a little proactive care. He and other Wayne employees are dedicating themselves now to promoting heart health awareness.

Wayne workers have assembled a special refuse collection truck in memory of Russ Petersen. It will be shown at national a trade show in Atlanta May 8.

Each side of the truck has a large heart-awareness logo, with the words, “In Memory of Russ Petersen.”

Watje said he got the idea from refuse truck in a trade journal painted pink to promote breast cancer awareness.

“Here we are sitting with a great big billboard we’re not using,” Watje said, referring to the garbage truck. “Lets do the same thing. Let’s put something on there in memory of Russ.” The truck will be seen by a worldwide audience at the Atlanta trade show.

Also, Watje said, “We’re going to do some more proactive things with the health of our employees, including on-site health screening. “We’re going to do cholesterol checks, and blood pressure checks, and try go get everyone aware of that.

“At least 50 percent of our employees, I would guess, are over 50, so they’re right in that zone where they should be concerned,” Watje said.

Wayne employees, including Watje, also are putting together a team to participate in the annual Relay for Life June 16 at Hawkeye Community College.

Those walking, like those assembling the truck for the Atlanta trade show, will have Russ Petersen on their minds.

In Honor of Russ PetersenCurbtender - American Heart Association

Waterloo Courier Wayne Engineering American Heart Association