DEARBORN – Third-generation Ford employee Warren K. Johnson gave a nod to his family’s past as he celebrated his retirement in December.
Thirty years, almost to the day, after his father donned his Ford-themed “retirement uniform” in December 1986, Johnson, an escalated handling manager for the Ford Customer Service Division, dressed up in the same ensemble for his own party.
“My dad, Warren Johnson, was the most conservative guy you would ever want to meet. Always well-dressed,” Johnson said. “My dad’s brother, Glenn, was the exact opposite and had a closet full of loud suits. For some reason, my dad (who had a great sense of humor), got ahold of one of those suits and decided to customize it.”
His dad, who worked for Ford for 33 years, took a blue-and-white-checked suit and decked it out with Ford patches, vehicle emblems and a Ford patch on the back that graced the spare tire cover of the Model A he had in high school. He topped off the outfit with a hat from his days as a tour guide at the Dearborn Proving Grounds.
“The whole ensemble created quite a stir when he walked through the experimental garage,” Johnson said.
After his father passed away in 2011, Johnson came across the retirement suit while going through his things. He decided it’d be neat to wear the same outfit to his own party celebrating his 32 ½ years at Ford. Johnson even brought a photo of his dad in the outfit and took a photo while holding it.
Ford was always in Johnson’s sights as a career, as his father and grandfather both worked for Ford.
“My father’s test driving job at the Dearborn Proving Grounds and his stories of driving experimental iconic vehicles such as the 1955 Lincoln Futura (later to become the Batmobile), the Ford turbine trucks and buses, and the “Wrist Twist” 1965 Mercury (no steering wheel) held my interest as a little kid,” he said.
And his grandfather, Oscar A. Johnson, was hired into Ford in 1924 as the first captain of the Henry Ford II ore freighter. After his grandfather was promoted to traffic director in the 1930s, Johnson said Henry Ford would still insist that “Cap” come along for the ride to make sure things went smoothly.
As he starts his retirement, Johnson said that one of the highlights of his years at Ford was a particularly touching moment. He was a part of the Ford Customer Service Division service engineering team that restored a 1967 Mustang for a cancer patient in time for his daughter to use it in her wedding.
“Seeing his and the family’s reaction when we rolled it out was something I will never forget,” Johnson said.
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Warren K. Johnson's retirement
The retiring Ford employee wore his father's suit and re-created a photo.