Richard Bone: 65 Years and Counting of Union Millwrighting

On August 7, 1950, Richard Bone embarked on a career that he would carry with him for a lifetime. And now it carries him to the front of his union meeting to accept his 65-year pin from Local 1263.

At age 82 and after 65 years of service , the softspoken Mr. Bone talks proudly of his contributions to union millwrighting. When Mr. Bone joined the UBC in 1950, he was initially a carpenter out of Local 225. He spent four years in the Air Force, from 1953 to 1957, as a draftsman, and when he returned in 1958 he did his first millwright work and that led him to being one of the founding members of Local 1263 when it was formed in 1960.

A good example of Mr. Bone's character is illustrated when asked about his time in the Air Force. He will tell you he was a draftsman, but turns the conversation to talk about how proud he is of his father, Guy Bone, who served in World War II. That sort of attitude is what he seems to live by, both during his daily life and as a union millwright.

When asked about his proudest accomplishment and contribution to the union, Mr. Bone doesn't talk about the number of jobs he worked or how he increased the market share at that time or other things he's accomplished in his career. Instead, he wants to talk about his family and the fact that he brought so many of his family into the union. He talks about his brother Doug, who was a Business Representative. He mentions his cousins Billy and Robert Bone and his grandson Scott Bone. This is what he is most proud of. He is proud of all of his family who he has brought in to join Local 1263. Then, he spends a little extra time talking about his sons Larry, Jason, and Dickie. It gives him a lot of joy knowing that he was, in part, responsible for the things they were able to accomplish.

Dickie, who is now President of Local 1263 and is the President and a founding delegate of the Southern States Millwright Regional Council (SSMRC), had the special honor of presenting his own father with his 60-year pin, and now the 65-year award.

"Dad was all about getting a job finished on time and doing it correctly," Dickie Bone said. "If dad had 30 minutes for lunch, he took 30 minutes for lunch and not 31 minutes. If he had a 10-minute break, he took 10 minutes. Dad had very little tolerance for being behind and having any task completed to standards less than perfect."

Mr. Bone says that work ethic was taught to him by older members. He was taught to try to help out and do the best work he could possibly do. He was taught to, "give a man a fair day's work. Treat everyone fair and hope you get it back." This is also what he wants to pass on to the younger members. He wants everyone to do a job the best they can and the best they know how to do.

Training is a hallmark of the SSMRC and Mr. Bone wants upcoming millwrights to know that training is what will keep us strong. His advice: Never stop learning. When he was an apprentice, he says that on-the-job training is all he had. There was no apprenticeship program like we have today. He says that training will benefit more than anything and he "would love today's training."

Take advantage of what is offered; training that wasn't offered years ago. This, he says is what is will make the SSMRC the best it can be.

"Members like Richard Bone are the backbone of not only their home local, but the Council and the UBC as a whole," said SSMRC Executive Secretary-Treasurer Wayne Jennings. "Richard’s work ethic and willingness to pass on his knowledge has benefitted countless millwrights."

Many people look up to Mr. Bone and try learn from a man who shrugs off his own accomplishments and instead talks about family and the craft that gave him a long, successful career. Thanks to Mr. Bone, there are still millwrights in the field today who are benefiting from his simple lesson of never stop learning and do the best you can do, the best you know how.

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