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Joe Hurlimann was Truitt & White's longest running employee, with more than 60 years with the business. He began working for the family-owned building materials company in the late 1950s, when he was still in high school.
Hurlimann, who was 78, had a basket attached to the back of his old single-speed bike, which was gray. Sometimes, he would stack wood scraps tied with twine - from his longtime employer Truitt & White - 4 to 5 feet high on the basket. He would take the scraps home to his workshop, turn them into stakes, and sell them back to Truitt & White.
"It always looked like he couldn't possibly make it across the railroad tracks without the whole stack collapsing. But he always did," recalled Dan White, Truitt & White CEO. "I'm sure lots and lots of people have seen him around town over the years."
Hurlimann worked part time until he graduated from Saint Mary's College High School in 1956. He went on to attend UC Berkeley, where he got a PhD in plant pathology as part of the first class of the College of Natural Resources.
Hurlimann was known at Truitt & White as an avid stamp collector. White explained that stamp collectors buy sheets of 100, but are mainly interested in the four corner stamps. That left 96 stamps for Hurlimann to share. He would lick them and put them on Truitt & White's envelopes, and sell them back to the company as postage.
White described those envelopes with their vintage stamps as "one of our claims of fame."
Joe Hurlimann's first day of work with Truitt & White was Oct. 19, 1955. His first job was stocking shelves.
More recently, his jobs with the company included organizing its postage and counting inventory.
White said Hurlimann, who worked part time, kept a close eye on the company inventory. Materials get cut to different lengths, for example, and keeping track can be quite a project.
"He would go around the yard with his clipboard and count stuff," White said. "he would go around with his tally sheet and count everything."
White said Hurlimann's long tenure with the company was quite a feat. He recalled how it had once come up at a going-away event for another longtime employee.
"I called on Joe and said, 'What do you think about the new guy quitting already?'" White laughed, recalling the moment: The "new guy," he added, "had been there for 30 years!"
Funeral mass for Joseph Hurlimann: A funeral mass will be offered at St. Joseph the Worker Church for its longtime parishioner Joseph Hurlimann on Thursday, March 9 at 10:30 a.m. There will be a gravesite committal service at St. Joseph Cemetery in San Pablo. All friends and parishioners of Joe are welcome to join. St. Joseph the Worker Church is at 1640 Addison St., Berkeley 94703
Memorial Services Schedule
Wednesday, March 8th 4:45pm - 5:45pm Vigil Service at St. Joseph the Worker
Thursday, March 9th 10:00am Viewing at St. Joseph the Worker
Thursday, March 9th 10:30am Funeral Service at St. Joseph the Worker followed by burial service at the cemetary.