Arline Lamarche was going through some old boxes at her home in Prospect late last week when she discovered a watch. Rectangular in shape, with a thin leather band, the watch had an inscription:
A union president at the former Verso Paper mill in Bucksport, Lamarche soon recognized what she had stumbled across — a retirement watch.
The watch celebrated 30 years of work at the mill, which was owned by Champion Paper at the time of the employee’s retirement. International Paper bought Champion in 2000, and International Paper spun off Verso Paper Corp. in 2006 before the mill closed permanently in late 2014.
TRM, Lamarche recognized, were the initials for Tony R. MacDonald, a machinist foreman who retired in 1994.
“I scheduled and performed payroll, so between being involved with union contracts, and being involved with scheduling and payroll decisions, I was pretty involved in anything that benefited the good of the employees,” Lamarche said. “Recognition was so important for individuals, not so much the ‘gift’ but an appreciation for a job well done.”
Lamarche took to social media Thursday and quickly tracked down MacDonald, who lives in Orrington. She gave him the watch on Friday. Her Facebook friends applauded the work.
“What a sweet reunion,” Beth Meier said. “You did a good thing.”
“This is such a wonderful story,” Kate Turlo said. “You are the best.”
Lamarche explained why MacDonald didn’t get the watch sooner.
“Tony didn’t attend the recognition banquet in 1994 and the watch sat in Human Resources, which was located in what was the security building, and it just kept getting moved to different places within the mill,” she said. “When offices got moved and when the mill was closing, I found it and brought it home to hopefully find him. I forgot about it in the box I haven’t touched since I left the mill.”
Speaking through Lamarche, MacDonald declined to comment. MacDonald’s daughter, Tracey MacDonald, told Lamarche that her father was glad to receive the watch.
“It means a lot to my dad and family that you reached out and presented him with his watch,” she said on Facebook.