PITTSFIELD TWP. — When 97-year-old Edward Wilding came into his classroom, Lorain County JVS precision machine technology instructor John Green knew he had to introduce the man to his students.
Green said Wilding, an accomplished tool-and-die maker during World War II in England, was just the man from whom students needed to learn from.
“When he told us how old he was and what his experience was, I realized that this was a part of the folklore that’s pretty much out the window,” Green said.
Wilding said his meeting with Green was purely chance. He was waiting for family members at Lorain County JVS’s third annual Community Appreciation Day at the school, when he spotted a machining sign.
“I was very interested in the changes in the industry,” said Wilding, who retired from the trade 18 years ago.
After discussing the industry with Wilding, Green said he asked Wilding to speak with students at the school. Wilding, who needed no convincing, took center stage Wednesday and spoke to precision machine technology students, as well as pre-engineering, computerized drafting and design and military history students.
The students had the opportunity to question Wilding about the industry and learn about England during WWII.
Wilding, now an Avon resident, was born in Camden Town, England, in 1915, according to his daughter, Carol Asmondy, who accompanied him to the school.
Asmondy said Wilding, who will be 98 in December, had very different schooling than students in the present-day U.S.
Wilding finished school at 14 and immediately landed his first engineering job. Wilding worked a variety of machine trade shops, creating parts for microscopes and other items. He was exempted from active military service during the war because of his skill training, which was valuable during that time.
Wilding worked at Hoover during the war and created parts needed in the war effort. He traveled to the U.S. in 1950 and continued his work in the tool-and-die trade in Cleveland.
Asmondy said Wilding was dedicated to his work and didn’t retire until the age of 79.
“He loved getting up every day and going to work,” she told the students.
Wilding discussed his work with the students, most of whom are studying to go into a similar trade. Wilding, who said times were tough during the war, said obtaining a job in tool-and-die making in the 1940s was difficult then.
“I would imagine that it was impossible to get an apprenticeship,” he said. “There were so many people out of work. Even getting a job, I was very fortunate.”
Wilding also said the work is easier now due to computers. He said he was impressed with the students, who created a metal engraving for him in about five minutes.
“The education that the kids are getting here is worth a fortune,” he said. “I would have loved to be in a program like this.”