Co-workers complete job unfinished by late friend

Jinae West

Family of maintenance supervisor grateful

Jennifer Chapman displays an older photo of her farm house without the recent renovations. Adam Cade | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Lonnie Scarlett, the building maintenance supervisor, still remembers Gary Cline’s last day on the job more than one month ago. Cline was a maintenance repair worker with the buildings and grounds department for three and a half years.

“It was Wednesday morning, and we had a safety meeting. Gary was always a prompt, dependable employee. He actually had several years of perfect attendance,” Scarlett said of his co-worker. “But he was late. His wife said he left at a normal time, thought he might’ve run out of gas.”

That Wednesday was July 16 when 44-year-old Cline died in a motorcycle accident on his way to work. The accident involved a sport-utility vehicle at the intersection of State Route 5 and New Milford Road in Ravenna.

Cline left behind a wife, two children and an unfinished remodeled farmhouse, a project his wife, Jennifer, said he was in the process of completing.

So people like Scarlett decided to lend a hand rebuilding the 200-year-old farmhouse, which has been in the family for a century.

“There are a lot of guys volunteering to finish (the house) up,” Scarlett said. “We had people from our carpenter shop and our zone maintenance and other departments, too. A lot of the people from Campus Environment and Operations have volunteered to do it. The grounds crew has helped. It’s really been a nice outpouring of people trying to finish up his remodeling project.”

Jennifer Cline said her husband took off the week of July 4 to continue work on the house.

“(Gary) was remodeling it room by room. He had ripped into the living room, ripped down walls, ceilings, everything, and that was his last project, and it was kind of left that way,” she said. “Lonnie is a wonderful boss, and the guys just all rallied together to fix it.”

Scarlett said volunteers framed new closets and entranceways, painted, put in new windows and electrical work, insulated walls and “are probably even doing hardwood floors.”

Jennifer Cline said they also ripped up carpet, tore down walls and ceilings and were doing “all the little things Gary had wanted to do.”

“Five or six guys would come (to the house), and I had food here for them, and they wouldn’t even stop to eat and wouldn’t rest,” she said. “I know they had come straight from work, and it was hours before they even took a break, and I am so grateful for them.”

“They kicked butt,” she added, letting out a small laugh.

The Clines received close to $2,000 in contributions from people at Bowman Hall, the Michael Schwartz Center and Satterfield Hall, all buildings where Gary Cline used to work. A tree will also be planted in his name. Scarlett said he attributes the amount and degree of help to the kind of person Gary Cline was.

Ruby Riley, an administrative assistant at Satterfield Hall, said she knew Gary Cline to be “a gentleman-type worker” who “treated us all very kindly” and “did over and above what he should’ve been doing.”

“He will be missed,” she said.

Scarlett said all of the people’s support comes as no surprise.

“It shows how well Gary was liked here,” he said. “He was more than just a regular worker. He tried so hard to do an excellent job, so it’s hard on us. We lost a very close and dear friend, besides a co-worker. He was so alive, he was such an outgoing person that he just kept everyone happy. He uplifted people.”

Contact buildings and grounds reporter Jinae West at [email protected].