Marie Freeman passed away last month after a difficult battle with cancer. She had been a member of The Wilburn Company for 21 years, serving in many buildings as a Day Porter and as an Environmental Hygienist.
Marie was respected and beloved by all who knew her, on our team and in our community.
Bob Baldwin, Chief Operating Officer at The Wilburn Company, puts it this way: “While I didn’t work directly with Marie, I knew her and heard the many stories about the amazing personality and dedication that she always displayed. It is always hard to see someone pass, especially someone who spent so many years with our company.”
“It leaves a hole that just can not be filled,” he says.
While we can’t explain everything that made Marie special in the space of a single article, we’d like to offer three things you should know about Marie as we honor and remember her.
She just took care of things.
Tom Foster is a Building Manager at The Wilburn Company and was Marie’s supervisor on the night shift for over a decade. He’d be the first to tell you that managing buildings was made much easier with Marie around.
“Whatever need to be done, she would do,” Tom explains. “It didn’t matter if it wasn’t in the job description. If a client needed it, she’d do it anyway.”
Luke Raymond, another Building Manager who was also fortunate enough to have Marie on his team for a number of years, agrees. In fact, there’s one time Marie went beyond the call of duty that particularly stands out in Luke’s memory.
It was a standard shift when Luke got a call from Marie explaining that she’d be addressing something outside of her usual scope of tasks. Her building, she reported, had a ladybug problem, and she was setting to work to clean it up.
“She called and told me that she’d be cleaning up ladybugs,” says Luke. “I told her, ‘Okay, go for it,’ and I headed over there to check in.”
When Luke arrived, he found that the job was bigger than sweeping up a few beetles. It turned out that the space was overrun with the insects. They’d made their way in through a crack or vent and there were thousands of them on the walls, the ceilings, the floors, the desks, and pretty much everywhere else. And in the midst of them all, working steadily to clean up the mess, was Marie.
“She’d just set about sweeping them up,” recalls Luke. “But there were so many. She was getting a little bit frustrated, because she couldn’t reach all of them up in the corners and around some people’s desks.”
Luke brought over some helpful equipment (including a handheld vacuum cleaner to take the place of dustpans) and the team was able to get the situation taken care of, largely thanks to Marie’s good work.
Most people wouldn’t have stepped up to do that job unasked. But, for Marie, stepping up was normal.
She had her own high standards of work.
As evidenced by her battle with ladybugs, Marie was quick to step up to do work outside of her normal cleaning procedures when needed – but she also stepped up shift by shift to do her normal work to the highest quality.
“Nobody ever said anything bad about Marie’s work,” says Tom. “Sometimes, I would even assign her to buildings where there had been performance issues, because I knew she would do great work and be able to smooth things over.”
“If every employee worked as hard as Marie,” Tom continues with a laugh, “we’d only need half of our staff!”
It was impossible not to notice Marie’s commitment to a job well done. She knew what “clean” looked like, and she worked hard to make sure her results aligned with the ideals she had in her head. She took joy and pride in keeping buildings in good shape and occupants healthy.
“I never needed to tell Marie that a task could be done better,” says Luke. “She had her own high standards of cleaning that were above any checklist we could give her.”
Perhaps one of the reasons that Marie worked so effectively was because she valued her job and our organization so highly.
“While attending her service, I had the honor of speaking to various members of Marie’s family, including her son, James,” shares Bob. “They all stated how much Marie loved her job and how much she cared for the Wilburn Company.”
“Hearing this was very humbling and certainly shed a brighter light on the positive impact we can all have on each other’s lives simply by ‘doing our jobs,'” he continues. “This was more than a job to Marie; it was part of who she was, part of her normal life, and she lived it to the fullest every day!”
Shift by shift and day by day, Marie always did her work to the highest quality. Her clients and her teammates always appreciated it.
She’ll be missed.
Marie will be missed by everyone who knew her – even those that only knew her by sight.
“Marie and I used to regularly stop in at a convenience store near one of our buildings before work,” remembers Luke. “I was in there the other day, and the people behind the counter asked me where she was – they really enjoyed seeing her and they were sad to hear that she’d passed. She had that effect on people.”
“You couldn’t help but to like Marie because she was just a great human being,” says Tom. “Everyone who knew her misses her. Our clients miss her. I miss her friendship.”
At The Wilburn Company, we’re incredibly grateful that we knew Marie for more than a brief time; we were fortunate to spend two-plus decades with her, and her impact on our team and our clients was profound.
“Marie was part of the fabric of The Wilburn Company that helped mold us into the organization we are today,” says Bob. “We always talk about The Wilburn Company being a family. Never has it been truer, thanks in large part to people like Marie Freeman.”
Marie exemplified the quality of work that we strive for, and she did it with joy. From all of us at The Wilburn Company: Marie, thank you, and we’ll miss you.