Mary Boudreau and Sean Spicer

Faribault Woolen Mills’ Mary Boudreau speaks with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during the Made in America Product Showcase in the East Room of the White House in July 2017. Boudreau was honored Friday for almost 65 years of service to the company. (Photo courtesy of Paul Mooty)

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Surrounded by friends and family, longtime Woolen Mill employee Mary Boudreau receives a round of applause Friday for her 60-plus years of service at the mill. The recognition was in conjunction with the mill's 154th birthday celebration. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

In 1954, at age 18, Mary Boudreau hit the jackpot when she landed a job as a magazine filler at the Faribault Woolen Mill.

In those days, Woolen Mill jobs were highly sought after and difficult to obtain. But thanks to her sister, who already worked in the mill’s wood shop, Boudreau was welcomed to a company that employed her for nearly 65 years.

“I just love my work,” said Boudreau. “That’s the main thing.”

Boudreau hasn’t worked at the Woolen Mill since she was hospitalized in January with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and while she considers herself retired, she’d keep working if she had her way.

Throughout the years, Boudreau took on duties in every department of the Woolen Mill and helped train weavers and other workers.

“I worked with older people, and they liked me because I was nice,” said Boudreau, reflecting on her early years at the Woolen Mill. “Within one year I went from the bottom up to the top.”

Boudreau said she didn’t prefer making one product over the other — she enjoyed manufacturing everything at the mill, whether it was blankets, throws, scarves or accessories.

“I was interested in what I was doing and to see the finished product,” said Boudreau. “I’ll make them all. I miss it.”

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Retired Woolen Mill employee Mary Boudreau, center, poses for a photo with two of her grandchildren, Jeremy and Elizabeth Boudreau. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

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Pictured from left: Sen. John Jasinski, Mary Boudreau and Paul Mooty celebrated the 154th anniversary of the Faribault Woolen Mill Thursday. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

A dual celebration

On Thursday, in conjunction with the Woolen Mill’s 154th anniversary, company officials and community members honored Boudreau for over 60 years of service to the mill. A short program complete with sandwiches, cupcakes and refreshments shed light on Boudreau’s contributions and the Woolen Mill’s ongoing legacy.

Paul Mooty, who along with his cousin Chuck reopened the Woolen Mill in 2011, kicked off the program by sharing a history of the Woolen Mill and Boudreau’s commitment to the company. He said Boudreau’s work ethic, incredible spirit and enjoyment of her job makes the Woolen Mill what it is today.

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Paul Mooty, chairman of the Faribault Woolen Mill Company, shared the history of the Woolen Mill at its 154th birthday celebration Thursday. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

In 2017, when the Faribault Woolen Mill was invited to the Made in America showcase at the White House in Washington, D.C., Boudreau represented the company along with Chief Executive Officer Tom Kileen.

“It couldn’t have been a more perfect deal,” said Mooty.

During Boudreau’s employment at the Woolen Mill, she witnessed both the 2009 closing of the company and its revival in 2011, the same year the mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Mooty said Sen. John Jasinski, who served as mayor of Faribault at the time of the Woolen Mill’s closing, was “the steady hand” who helped reopen the company’s doors.

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Sen. John Jasinski, who served as mayor at the time of the Faribault Woolen Mill's revival, spoke at the company's birthday party. He's pictured with Paul Mooty, chairman of the Woolen Mill. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

“To this day, one of my proudest moments as mayor was to see this building and these people back in business,” said Jasinski at the celebration. “It still brings tears to my eyes, honestly.”

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Faribault Woolen Mill Chairman Paul Mooty presented a wool blanket to Mary Boudreau, who was honored for nearly 65 years of service to the Woolen Mill at its 154th birthday celebration. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

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Tom Klemer, left, accepted a wool blanket on behalf of his late father, Richard Klemer, who previously owned the Faribault Woolen Mill. Presenting the blanket is Woolen Mill Chairman Paul Mooty. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

To honor Boudreau, Mooty presented her with a wool blanket manufactured at the Faribault Woolen Mill. Other blankets were made in honor of former chief executives Pete Johnson and the late Richard Klemer, whose son Tom accepted the gift on his behalf.

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty.

©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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