John Dandar, of Curtice, stood in line with his fellow workers to thank President Obama for saving his job. What he received, in the end, was two priceless mementos from the experience.
Dandar’s wife, Maggi, a photographer, took photos of then presidential candidate Barack Obama, when he visited Maumee Bay State Park, in Oregon, in 2008.
“I took our grandson out there and we were playing on the beach. I saw all of these people around and heard Obama was going to be staying there,” Maggie explained. “We rented a room, and I waited for him to go on his evening walk. John and I were able to meet him on the boardwalk. I got 50 shots that night.”
|Maggi Dandar, Curtice, took this photo of her husband John with
candidate Barack Obama when he visited Maumee Bay State Park.
John Had the President autograph the photo during his recent visit
to Jeep. (Photo courtesy of Maggi Dandar, mdandarphotography.com)
At that time, Obama spoke with the couple about jobs and the economy.
“He (Obama) promised John that he would not lose his pension,” Maggi said. “He guaranteed us that John would not lose his benefits and that he would try to keep him employed. Well, so far, so good.”
John retired from Chrysler Group LLC’s Toledo Assembly plant five years ago. An industrial electrician, John went to work for Wrangler Paint, a Chrysler supplier located in the Chrysler complex.
On June 3, the President visited Toledo and the Chrysler complex. The night before, Maggi asked John to take two of the photos she took in 2008 with him and ask for Obama’s signature.
“I told John that I thought it would be great to get one of the pictures signed for our son David, who just got back from his second tour in Afghanistan,” Maggi said.
David, 37, is a sergeant in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany prior to being called up to Afghanistan for the second time. His wife, April, and daughter, Kierston, 11, stayed in Germany until he was finished with his tour.
“I really thought it would be nice to get the photo signed for David,” Maggi said. “He is back in the states now, alive. What a wonderful thing to have a ‘thank you for your service’ from the President.”
As excited as Maggi was, John took it all in stride.
“It was actually pretty quick,” John said. “He (Obama) asked me if I wanted the pictures I was holding signed. I was kind of surprised at first but I said ‘yes.’” I also asked him to sign for David in honor of his two tours.”
John said the President was very friendly and shook everyone’s hand that stood in line.
“He (Obama) was quite friendly. He is not stuck up or anything,” John said. “He said he really liked one of the pictures of him that I had. He said it was a good picture. Maggi and I talked about it and she is going to make a copy of it and send it to him.”
The signed photo is now in a shadow box, Maggi said.
“It really is wonderful. No one else has this photo which I took and now it is signed,” she said. “He is the first African American to be president. It is just historical.”
David, currently in Alabama with friends and family, will make his way to Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas, next month. The couple plan on bringing David’s signed photo to him then.
Richard Sheets, of Oregon, was also able to shake hands with the President.
A millwright at Wrangler Paint, Sheets said he was pleasantly surprised the President toured the plant.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I enjoyed it,” Sheets said.
“It is something I can tell my grandkids and, hopefully my great grandkids about.”
Sheets worked at North Star Steel, in Monroe, MI, for 26 years and has been employed in his current job for just over six years.
While standing in line to meet the president, he, like everyone else, thanked the President.
“I thanked him for saving our jobs,” Sheets said. I don’t believe the Republicans were going to do that. If they did not help they would have put a lot of people out of work. There would be 100’s of thousands of people out of work without the bailout. We would have nothing for the kids who do not go to college to go to work. Where would we be?”
Sheets said he believes the President does believe in the American worker.
“I think the President believes in the working man, having jobs for Americans and in preserving the middle class,” he said. “It was a nice experience.”