Indiana American Water Employee Celebrates 60 Years in the Water Industry

Last week, Indiana American Water, a subsidiary of American Water, recognized long-time employee Charles Kelley at an employee event at its Michigan Street distribution center in Gary, Ind. Kelley, who started with Gary-Hobart Water Corporation in 1956, currently works as a field services representative, and is American Water’s longest-tenured employee.

“Kelley is one of those employees that just seems to have an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm for everything he does,” said Indiana American Water President Deron Allen. “After more than six decades, he still is one of the hardest working employees we have.

“Fortunately for our customers and his co-workers, he’s a great guy who just has an impeccable work ethic,” Allen continued. “We are very lucky to have had him around for all these years.”

Following a short stint after high school working in a local steel mill, Kelley got his start with the company as a laborer for Gary-Hobart Water installing water mains and other underground infrastructure. Indiana American Water acquired the utility in 1999 as part of a larger acquisition that included the system in northwest Indiana. These days, he interacts regularly with customers as a field services representative for Indiana American Water.

“The time just sneaks up on you,” Kelley said. “It goes by so fast, especially if you enjoy what you’re doing.”

When asked why he has stuck around so long, Kelley credits his wife who passed away more than three decades ago and a growing family for reminding him that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

“I had bills and babies, man—I didn’t have any choice but to work,” said Kelley. “I like what I do here. I enjoy the job, so I never really had a reason to leave.”

Kelley’s colleagues, water company veterans in their own rights, are grateful he’s stuck around.

“He’s a wonderful man, and the hardest working employee I’ve ever met,” said Tommy Makatura, a fellow field services representative and 21-year employee who takes care of the water meter shop in northwest Indiana. “He’s a loyal employee and an awesome, friendly guy. He’s also very knowledgeable. He’s seen it all.
We like to joke around here that God created the water company with Kelley as the hammer.”

At 79 years old, Kelley shows no signs of slowing down these days and says he has no plans to retire anytime soon.

“I’ll know when it’s time to retire,” he says. “I haven’t reached that point yet and, even when I do retire, I will likely continue working on the side on a plumbing business I own. I’ve set aside some money and my bills are paid. I’m in a great position. I’m a blessed man.”

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