Goreville native retires after 34 years with SIPC
Goreville native Frederick Suits, currently of Tunnel Hill, recently retired from Southern Illinois Power Cooperative after a career spanning 34 years, which he began in 1979 as the power plant was in its infancy.
Suits, an avid painter, said he is looking forward to retirement as he will have more time to work on his art, spend with his family, relax and get out for rides on his Harley.
“I’ll miss the people I worked with more than I’ll miss the work, but it isn’t easy shrugging off a career of 34 years,” said Suits, who in his career said he had several different positions, but in his last years with the plant he worked as a coal equipment operator.
“I feel privileged to have worked at the plant for all of these years and to have had the job in an economy as tough as we’ve had,” Suits said, who at age 58 said he realizes he is “lucky” to be able to retire “early.” “There were times it would be nothing to work 15 to 16 hour shifts and through that you really build a strong bond with those you work with.”
Suits, who has two grandchildren in the Goreville school system, said he always looked at the job as a career for the long haul as it opened shortly after he graduated high school.
“They were hiring a lot of area Goreville people because they needed employees who could remain on call and arrive quickly if needed,” Suits said. “It’s been good and I’ve enjoyed it, but I’m also going to enjoy retirement.”
For Suits, retirement sounds like a door opening into a new career as his schedule is already filled with engagements with his artwork and his family. Suits’ artwork is the feature February Art Walk in Ste. Genevieve, Mo. where he is a part of the Sainte Genevieve Art Guild.
“The fourth Friday of each month we have an Art Walk between about a dozen art galleries during the evening hours,” Carolyn Bach, Treasurer and Local Exhibit Co-Chair of Sainte Genevieve Art Guild, said. “Each gallery features one piece of art as a purchase prize, and from among the several Guild members represented at February’s 4th Friday Art Walk, the piece chosen was Fred’s. This is the second of his works to be purchased by area art patrons.”
Suits said he took part in a Plein Air event with the Guild last year and was impressed with its inclusion in a community that supports it. His Art Walk show is an example of the Ste. Genevieve community embracing its artist, he said, and he looks forward to continuing to share his art there and creating more. His participation as the February feature artist runs until March 17 at Art & Antiques, 188 N. Main in Ste. Genevieve and includes rural scenes, portraits and others.
“I work mostly in acrylics,” Suits said, adding that he enjoys painting rural scenes of Southern Illinois. “We live in a beautiful environment and so I have plenty of scenes to choose from.”
“Fred Suits has been a most welcome addition to the Sainte Genevieve art community since he first joined us at our Plein Air Painting Competition last October,” Bach said. “Our group of artists isn’t just from the town of Sainte Genevieve; we have regular participants from communities to the north, south and west. Fred has added a new direction for our Art Guild, as we had not been represented from the Illinois side of the river at the time he joined our group. And Fred has already provided us opportunities to expand our reach into some new exhibit venues.”
Suits said he has taken time to study art and that it is something he will continue doing. Suits has studied art at both Shawnee Community College and at Southern Illinois University.
“It’s something I really enjoy doing and will be doing much more of it once I’m fully retired,” Suits said.
The Power Cooperative held a retirement party for Suits Friday, March 1, where he was presented with a gold watch for his time and dedication to the plant. Suits said he was grateful for the party and that he is leaving a good position he hopes will be filled with another Goreville local.
“It’s a good job, it’s been a good job, and I hope it is filled by someone who is looking for a career with the plant like I was,” Suits said. “Because it is a good place with good people and I will miss them.”
UPDATE: This article has been updated from the original version, which was published in the Goreville Gazette March 6, to include quotes from Carolyn Bach that were not available at time of press.