Few people can say that their work, and their influence, can be seen in lasting structures around the world – but Oakmont Manor resident Harold is one of them. Born in Detroit in the late 1920s, Harold spent most of his life helping to build things – a passion that started when he was just a few years old. “As a kid, I was always kind of a carpenter,” he said. “I just loved to do any kind of carpentry work.”
It was a skill that would serve him well, not only in his professional life but also during his service in World War 2. After graduating from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Harold was drafted into the 69th Petroleum Engineers unit of the Army, where his main responsibility was to help keep fleets of trucks properly fueled in the Italian countryside. When his mission of building a refueling station was complete, he was sent to work in a chemistry lab in Naples for the remainder of his service.
It was then, in 1947, that Harold moved back to Detroit, married his wife of 30 years, and began working in what he calls “a very interesting job.”
A Very Interesting Job
“I was a bricklayer by trade,” he said. “I worked with my tools for 13 years and then went into the office for 21 years as a chief estimator. We did heavy construction, and by that, I mean large buildings – 70 story buildings.”
His innate carpentry skills and proficiency in management and logistics didn’t go unnoticed, and in the early 1960s, Harold was sent to Puerto Rico to help oversee construction on one of the area’s largest children’s hospitals – a project that was near and dear to his heart. “I really felt that I was helping to fulfill a need that was there.”
After his work in Puerto Rico ended, Harold found himself hired as a consultant for the world-famous Albert Kahn Architecture Firm located in Detroit’s famous Fisher Building. It was at this time that Harold had the chance to work on two world-famous structures: Detroit’s Renaissance Center located right on the Detroit River, and Boston’s 72-story Prudential tower – both which are still in regular use today, to Harold’s great delight. “Sometimes I’ll watch TV and see somebody being interviewed in Boston,” he said, “and I can see the Prudential Tower in the background. I can always spot that thing.”
Retirement and His New Gig
Harold retired from his career in 1992, after nearly 50 years in the trade, but he didn’t allow himself to settle down. After the death of his second wife in 2009 after 30 years of marriage, Harold moved into Oakmont Manor with the goal of staying busy and bringing his love of music and performance to the community. He now leads a monthly themed singalong called Singalong with Harold (November’s theme is hits from the 30s and 40s and standards.), as well as a monthly themed disc jockey performance where he plays music during dinner or shows a performance DVD in the cinema. Both are extremely popular among his neighbors.
Always a carpenter at heart, Harold now uses the tools at his disposable (BOSE speakers, microphones, DVDs) to help build at Oakmont Manor a true sense of community that his fellow residents and staff just love. “I know I’m in the right place,” he said, smiling. “I love it here. I absolutely love it.