Employers today lament the work ethics of the current generation. Children are too pampered by their parents. They have it too easy. They don’t understand how to work hard. They have bad attitudes.
While not all youth can be painted with this same broad brush, it is true that the work ethics of yesteryear are truly a thing of the past. And few have ever embodied this old-fashioned ethic better than Harley Langdale Jr.
Still working well into his 90s, “Mr. Harley” passed away Sunday at the age of 98. He began working at the tender age of 10 in his family’s timber business, began leading the company in the 1930s, and remained active until just a few years ago.
Mr. Harley rose each day well before sunrise and liked to read his newspaper before heading into work at 5. His paper carriers knew him well, as more often than not he was waiting for them at the end of his driveway. One day, his paper was late, and not being the most patient of men, he got in his car and drove to the newspaper dock to get it. The crew handed one to him, shocked to see him. He was in his late 80s at the time.
He walked in the woods every day, maintaining both his inner peace and his connection to the forests that had sustained his family for more than 150 years. He worked six days a week, went to church on Sundays, cut his own hair because he considered paying someone else to do it as wasteful, and put money that would have ensured him a life of luxury and ease back into the company and into philanthropic works. He did not have time for those who were lazy or who refused to work.
Mr. Harley lived in his father Judge Harley’s shadow for much of his life, working to please him, working to help his family, and working to preserve and protect the trees and the land. His philosophies, business practices, and initiatives have earned him a place in forestry history, but his personal work ethic, philosophies, and beliefs have surely earned him a place in Heaven.