When Doug Bradford became a Fareway manager, which happened in January of 2001 in Nevada, his parents gave him a plaque to commemorate the occasion.


The verse on the plaque from Colossians said, “Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart as working for the Lord, not for men.”


Bradford, 52, has carried that verse with him during his time of managing the Nevada Fareway store and he’ll take that verse into his next adventure, one he’s been anticipating for awhile now. He always wanted to retire at age 52 and spend more time with his family, and that’s exactly what he is going to do.


“I’ve spent since 2010 building a place in Minnesota,” he said. It’s a beautiful area of the state, he said, two hours north of the Twin Cities near Aitkin. His grandfather, now deceased, had purchased land there some years ago and eventually his father and mother, still living, also moved there.


“I bought 30 acres from my dad, and built a cabin up there,” Doug said. Pretty much every bit of vacation time he’s had in the past seven years has been spent in Minnesota working on his retirement cabin, which he said will be just a half-mile away from his parents’ home. His wife, Rona, who has been a stay-at-home mom, as well as having worked for the schools here and at Block Party Studios, will move with him. The Bradfords have two grown children, Garrick, 26, of Pleasant Hill, and Gabrielle, 24, of Nevada, who they probably hope will visit them often up north.


“I want time to spend with my family. This job (working for Fareway) has been all encompassing for 34 years…it takes every second of your time, and I want some time (for myself) while I’m still healthy and my parents are still alive. My wife deserves some of my best years, not just my last years,” Bradford said.


Bradford knows there are no guarantees for his future, and financially, he’ll still need to work a little, but he felt it was time to take this leap of faith, and just like that saying he’s lived by, he is putting his life into the Lord’s hands. “God will take care of me as he always has,” he said.


This past Saturday was Bradford’s last official day at Nevada’s Fareway store, bringing to an end the career that started for him back in the Waverly Fareway store in 1982. He was just a kid back then from the nearby town of Janesville.


He started, like many, as a carryout boy. In 1988 he was transferred to the Oskaloosa store, where he worked full-time, learning more about the grocery chain.


He also learned something else in Oskaloosa. He learned who his wife would be. It was there that he met Rona, who was the daughter of the Fareway manager, Merle Virgil. The two were married in September of 1989.


“Then they moved me to Marshalltown, because they didn’t want me working for my father-in-law,” he said.


In Marshalltown, where he worked until February of 1995, Bradford became acquainted with his successor, Wayne Lamoureux, who was also working there at the time. “Wayne was my assistant in Marshalltown and we’ve been friends ever since,” Bradford said. He has no question that Lamoureux will do great in Nevada.


As for Bradford, he had one more store to work in before coming to Nevada. He worked about three years in the Sioux City-Morningside store.


Then he came to Nevada, where he’s spent nearly 20 years. “I was grateful I got put into a small town, where I could know people.”


He started out in the “little store” uptown, where he was assistant manager. Like others, he has many memories of the little place that was located on K Avenue, between Fifth and Sixth streets. “If you let go of your cart, it would roll to the meat department,” he said with a smile.


Bradford said he’s loved being in the Nevada stores, and has loved his employees. He worked as assistant to Tom Loew, who went onto Oelwein, before being named manager at Nevada.


“I’ve had good people who’ve stuck with me … we’re a family, there’s always laughter. I’ve been surrounded by very good people.”


And the community and neighboring communities have supported the store, allowing the volume to grow exponentially due to their loyalty, Bradford said. “This store (the current Fareway which was new in 1999) has far exceeded anyone’s expectations.” And that, he said, is because of the community and the employees.


What he will miss most as he leaves, he said, is his employees and some of Fareway’s very good daily customers, who he has gotten to know.


Now, as he prepares for his move north, he’s comfortable with all of it, even the cold winters that will be ahead. While he hated winter as a store manager, because you have to worry about customer safety and never-ending floor cleaning, Bradford shared a secret. He loves winter, and going to a north part of Minnesota is going to be wonderful. Even his wife is excited about it. “She loves to ice fish and there’s no bugs in the winter,” he said.


While some may joke that retirement is a time of winding down, sitting around and taking it easy, Bradford said his early retirement will be nothing like that. His home is ready, but the garage needs work he said. And, he bought a portable Wood-Mizer sawmill and sees himself possibly selling lumber and custom sawing logs, or getting some other type of part-time job in that area to help financially. “I really have no idea. But I can tell you I won’t kick back … I’ll be working, only in a different way.”


Sidebar:


Nevada Fareway is welcoming new store manager, Wayne Lamoureux, this week. Lamoureux is coming to Nevada from the Boone Fareway store.


According to a story by Dan Mika in last week’s Boone News Republican, Lamoureux plans for Nevada to be his last assignment after a 37-year career so far with Fareway. He had worked for Fareway in Clear Lake, Spirit Lake and Marshalltown prior to Boone.


Life hasn’t been without its challenges for Lamoureux. He was travelling from Boone back to Marshalltown the night of Dec. 30, 1994, right after he was officially named manager of the store. As he passed by State Center around 5 a.m., a drunk driver struck him head on. He suffered several facial injuries, which forced doctors to install a mesh to keep his right eye in place and to wire his mouth shut to allow some of his broken teeth to heal. Lamoureux’s foot was also broken in several places.


Because of the accident, he wasn’t able to walk into the Boone store as manager until April 15, 1995.


Lamoureux said he plans to continue living in Boone and commuting to his job in Nevada.