Bruce Bruening – HVAC
Bruce used the GI Bill to pay for his education and worked on campus over the summer painting fences to help cover expenses. He also worked on campus at nights answering phone calls and keeping track of tuition payments. After graduating from Ranken, Bruce and his classmate, Terry Chance, took jobs in Baton Rouge, Louisiana working for JF Nailer. Read More
He was there for less than a year when they went on strike, so he moved back home to Quincy, IL. There he worked as a maintenance man for Motorola for six months and then for Meyer Heating and AC where he worked for two and a half years. Bruce then decided to open his own business. Bruening Heating and Air Conditioning which has been in business for 46 years and has two locations. Bruce has been joined in the business by Sandra, his wife of 50 years, and all three of his children. Chad, 44, learned the trade on the job and was later joined by his wife who is now the secretary. Mary, 42, went to college and then decided to learn the trade and join the family business. Kelly, 36, started out as a secretary and then moved into sales and now heads up the fireplace and grill side of the business. Bruce’s favorite memories are his classmates and teachers, “Mr. Groves was a character and told us how it was.” He remembers. Bruce also remembers his classmate Paul Mueller who became a Ranken teacher, “One day while Paul was teaching, I snuck into his class while he was writing on the board. When he turned around and saw me, we both had a good laugh.”
Everett West – HVAC
Before enrolling at Ranken, Everett spent four years in the Navy from 1964-1968. He used the GI Bill to attend Ranken and worked evenings while attending classes. When he graduated, he worked for Mac’s Plumbing and Heating in East St. Louis. While in East St. Louis, where he lived for twenty years, he also worked for the City of East St. Louis and the East St. Louis School District.Read More
He also taught HVAC at State Community College. Everett was in East St. Louis for 20 years and then moved back to Columbia, MO, his hometown. Much of his career he was self employed servicing and installing. Everett remembers some valuable lessons that he learned while a student at Ranken, “Ranken helped me tremendously. We had to follow rules and regulations, which I was used to from the Navy. Some people have a hard time with this, but this is what makes Ranken special. Ranken also taught us to treat people right and to do what is in the best interest of the customer. Some companies just want to install new equipment, but we learned to repair equipment so that we could save customers money.” Everett still works part time.
Martin Gardner – HVAC and Refrigeration
Martin worked at Snyder Service while in school and stayed there for sixteen months after graduating. He then worked for sixteen months at American Furnace Co. He was hired by Jarrell Contracting Services where he installed commercial and industrial equipment for 40 years. Martin says, “Ranken taught me the basics, but the theory we learned was indispensable. Read More
There were 57 guys in the shop when I retired and the guys from Ranken were so much better because of the theory we learned.” Martin has a wife, two daughters and five grand kids. His fondest memory of Ranken were his teachers Charles May and Mr. Grove, who they called “The Bear.” During his career Martin was Union Shop Steward for 15 years, Senior Service Technician, and a General Foreman.
Pete Kostecki – Automotive
Pete’s first job after graduating was for a construction company in Madison, IL repairing heavy equipment. After this his career took a different path. Pete decided to become a police officer which he did for two years. He then got into security work and completed his bachelor’s degree from LaSalle University in 1990. Read More
He eventually got hired to work security at Emerson which he did for 32 years before retiring. Pete did not stay retired long. After two years he got bored and went to work for Guarda Security where he still works. Pete says, “Ranken was a great school. I am glad I went there. The safety training I received at Ranken saved my life. In my first job a piece of medal punctured a vein in my wrist. I was bleeding really bad and I remembered what our teachers told us to do. I immediately put pressure on the wound to control the bleeding until I got to the hospital.” Pete has two daughters and three grand kids. He remembers carpooling with classmates Tom Kasprovich and John Calaway and talking with the guys about racing cars, a hobby which he enjoyed for years at Gateway and Alton Dragway. Pete wrote a book on weight loss in 1993 titled Thirty-Five Pounds Gone.
John Calaway – Automotive
John remembers Pete Kostecki’s lime green 1963, 6 cylinder Plymouth with the tiger skin vinyl roof which he got to work on as a student. Read More
He said, “Pete wanted to put an 8 cylinder engine in it and his Dad told him not until the 6 cylinder blew. Pete could never get the 6 cylinder to blow. Those 6 cylinders were bullet proof.” Several of the students, against the instruction of their teachers, would go to the interstate and race their cars. One day they were caught and were late for class. Ranken instructor Mr. Turnbull was not happy. The boys use to kid with Mr. Turnbull about Fords, of which Mr. Turnbull was a fan. The boys would say Ford stood for “found on road dead” Mr. Turnbull would counter with “first on race day.” John also remembers the boys all had their draft number written on their lapel, an ominous reminder of the times in which they lived. After graduating John worked as an auto mechanic, then went to work for his father-in-law as a combustion engineer. Later he went back to school at SIUE’s Environmental Resource Training Center, after which he worked for Granite City in wastewater treatment. John is grateful for his Ranken education. He remembers going to the GM school for eight weeks. He said he outshined the students from Bailey Tech because of the training he received at Ranken. John’s wife passed away in 2009 – he remarried in 2011 and moved to Arenzville, IL where they live now.
Dale Niemeier – Machinist
After graduating for the Machining program Dale worked for 47 years in a variety of positions and for a variety of companies. He was a tool room machinist, a tool and die maker, and built die casts and plastic molds. He spent twenty years with Mueller Machine and also worked at Standard Machine along with a few other shops. Dale said that “Ranken opened doors for me. Read More
If I mentioned that I graduated from Ranken in an interview it definitely helped.” He also met his wife through a friend at Ranken and has been married for 46 years. Dale has one son who is a Ranken alumnus as well, and two grand kids. Now Dale and his wife spend their time collecting antiques and like to take long trips in their RV. His favorite memory of Ranken is his classmates.
Jesse Reeves – Electronics
Jesse’s memories of Ranken are mainly his classmates, “1971 was a long time ago so there are a lot of names I do not remember but I remember John Hicks, who had an electronics store in Gillespie, IL, and Kenny Schoen from Mt. Olive who was also in Electronics.” Though Jesse never worked in Electronics he stayed busy after graduation. Read More
His first job was working for his Dad operating a bulldozer for local farmers, he then ran his own sand and gravel operation for seven years. For the last thirty years Jesse has been a truck driver, the last four of which he drove cross country.
Michael Buckley – Diesel
Michael went to work at the GMC Truck Center on Chouteau in 1971 after graduating and stayed there until 1975. He then worked at an independent car and light truck center and became a part time evening instructor at Ranken. Read More
From 1978 through 1991 he moved between Art Haack GMC and the GMC Truck Center holding the positions of Shop Foreman, Service Advisor, and Truck Service Manager. From there he worked at S & K Electric and then Bistate Development each for one year, before getting hired by FedEx as a senior heavy truck mechanic. Michael retired from FedEx in 2015. Michael has been an ASE Master Mechanic since 1975 and was named ASE Technician of the year (Medium/Heavy Truck electrical systems). Congratulations, Michael!
Tom Trettenero – Automotive Mechanic
After completing the Automotive Mechanic program Tom took a job at a small shop in Mt. Olive, Il. Soon after he started, this employer soon had financial problems and Tom was looking for a job. US Steel was hiring, and they had a mechanic who said he was getting ready to retire. Read More
They saw that Tom graduated from Ranken and had some experience, so they offered him a job in the labor force until this man retired. He took the job but the man didn’t retire so Tom took another path. “US Steel was a good place to work with thousands of jobs and room for advancement so I stayed and moved into a position repairing pneumatic tools.” Tom said. After this he moved into a Weigher position, weighing outgoing steel and incoming material. Then he took a job as a Lubricator and became chief lubricator and rebuilt pumps. He was then promoted to Coordinator and had a crew of eighteen for whom he was responsible. Tom worked at US Steel for 39 years and retired the day before he turned 60 and has been retired for 10 years and loving life. He enjoys gardening and fishing. For 15 years he also built houses. He would leave his job at the mill, go home and take a shower than go to work as a framer and finish carpenter part time. Tom has been married for 49 years and has two kids and five grandkids. His Son, TJ, graduated from Ranken in 1999 from the Industrial Electricity program and is now a journeyman Electrician. Tom believes that his Ranken education helped him get hired and advance at US Steel.
John Hicks – Communication electronics
John served in the military for three years prior to coming to Ranken. While in the military he performed maintenance on Hawk missile radar systems.Read More
At Ranken he studied Communication Electronics and then went to work for his Dad at his TV and appliance repair shop. When his Dad passed away, he inherited the business and his mother worked for the business until she passed away. John retired in 2012 and sold the business to his nephew who still runs it under the name John Hicks Maytag. John remembers two of his instructors from his Ranken days, Mr. Underwood and Mr. Gilkey. John has been a volunteer fireman and is currently in his eighth year as Mayor of Gillespie, IL. He recently oversaw a $13 Million water improvement project. John has been married to his wife for 53 years and has three daughters and five grandchildren. He has one grandson in the Navy and one in the marines. He has a grandson who is a Ranken Grad and is currently an electrician. The other two are in school, one at Columbia University and the other is a high school senior.
Charles Riechers – Architectural Design and Structural Engineering
Charles has embraced a variety of roles since graduating from Ranken. He started working as a drafter and did that for seven years. He has sold lumber, worked for Miceli Custom Homes as a Construction Superintendent and later promoted to VP of Construction building subdivisions and apartments. Read More
Charles also worked for Fred Weber building bridges and roads, and the Missouri Housing Development Commission as an inspector before retiring in 2017. Retirement did not last long as he went back to work for MODOT as a construction technician. He plans to retire again at the end of March. Charles has been married for 31 years, has three kids and 8 grand kids ranging in age from 3 to 22 years old. His Nephew Matt Sadler is an evening Automotive teacher at Ranken and his brother in law Jim Sadler also graduated from Ranken in Automotive. Charles remembers taking classes with his friend Rob Wirth and doing custodial work for the school in the evenings. “Ranken helped me hone my drafting skills which I still use in my leather business making belts, purses, and other products. It also helped prepare me for the workplace as it was more like going to a job because we were always designing and drawing something,” he recalls.
Dave Rogers – Machinist
As a student in the Machining program Dave worked in the tool crib for the evening program and a night watchman. One of the classmates he remembers being friends with was Bill Flanigan from Automotive. Read More
After graduating, Dave went to work for American Rail Car where he was employed for 45 years. The company was located on The Hill before moving to St. Charles. For his first 35 years he was a machinist then switched to safety and environmental for his last ten years. The safety training, he coordinated for employees, came in handy when one of the secretaries had a heart attack and Dave used CPR to save her life. “I never thought I would need to use that stuff,” Dave said, “but I am glad I knew what to do.” Dave was honored by the City of St. Charles for this selfless act. Dave says, “I highly recommend Ranken” and remembers it “being very strict and challenging which was good for [building character].” Dave has three kids, Kia, Kurt and Holly, and six grand kids.
Joseph Siekmann – Automotive Mechanic, Auto Collision Repair
Joe graduated in 1968 from the Automotive Mechanic program, served in the Army as a supply clerk in Hawaii then returned to Ranken and completed the Automotive Collision Repair program in 1971. Read More
He worked in auto collision repair his entire career. First, he was at Lincoln Mercury in East St. Louis for 3 years. He then moved to Meyer Olds for 17 years and finished his career at Jack Schmidt Ford for eleven years as the auto body shop manager. He retired at 54 and now spends his time working on his hobby, street rods. He is a member of a club and has four street rods that he works on. He takes his cars to car shows and on road trips. Joe attended a reunion with several of his classmates on campus during an open house several years ago. “I was amazed at how much the campus had changed since I attended.” He recalled. Joe has been married to his wife for 51 years and has two kids and 4 grand kids.
Paul Mueller – HVAC ‘71
Paul went to work for a short time in Belleville as a maintenance and HVAC repairman at a bowling ally after graduation. He applied for a job at St. Mary’s Hospital in East St. Louis but before he could interview for that job he was contacted by Bob Garrett, Director of Ranken at the time, who asked if he would be interested in an Assistant Instructor position at Ranken. Read More
Paul took the position and before long went on to be a full-time instructor and worked at Ranken for 40 years, twenty of those years as Department Chair. Bruce has fond memories of his classmates Bruce Bruening, and Terry Chance. In fact, he was the chauffer for Bruce’s wedding. Paul retired from Ranken nine years ago and spends his time with his wife at the lake house they built and with their six grand kids. They have traveled extensively in in the western United States and have plans to visit Hawaii and Alaska. Paul has a brother who also went to Ranken and his daughter graduated from Ranken’s IT program. In Paul’s day Ranken tuition was $450 per year and books and tools were $265.
Victor Moore – Plumbing
Working for Allied Services in Dayton, Ohio, Victor met some people who had attended Ranken and he decided to come here to learn the trade. Read More
After graduating he returned to work for Allied Services and worked for a couple other businesses before being hired to work as a pipefitter at International Harvester Truck Plant where he worked for 35 years before retiring. Victor says, “Ranken helped me a lot. The drafting class we took was very helpful and having learned pipefitting in our plumbing program helped me get my job at International Harvester.” While in St. Louis he rented a room for $10 a week on Forest Park Parkway which he shared with a few classmates.
Lloyd Miller – Communications and Computer Technology
Congratulations to Lloyd as he celebrates the 50th anniversary of his graduation from Ranken. Lloyd had this to say about the impact of his Ranken education, “Ranken’s greatest impact in my life was how its training and strong work ethic positioned me to be initially successful in the US Navy immediately upon graduation. Read More
The skills obtained at Ranken allowed me to enlist in the US Navy, during the height of the Viet Nam war, and immediately propelled me into one of the most technologically advanced areas of the early 1970’s – Satellite Communications. Over my four years I became responsible for 2nd and then 6th Fleet readiness of these shipboard systems assigned as a member of the Admiral’s staff. I received several letters of commendation for my services. This success positioned me to go on to a very successful career in IT and Project Management to where I have managed projects and programs in the tens of millions of dollars and provide consulting services at the CXX level of corporations. Ranken was the catalyst I needed to position me for success, and I believe to this day it continues to do so for so many of its graduates!” Lloyd is married and lives in South County. He and his wife, Mary, have 5 children and 13 grandchildren and both still work full time. They are members of the Patriot Guard Riders and enjoy many hobbies and Lloyd is learning to play the bugle so that he can play taps at military funerals. His favorite Ranken memories are building an operational radar system and watching his two sons, Lloyd, Automotive 2001, and Justin, IT 2002, graduate from Ranken.