Stripes employee retiring after 42 years
GRIESHEIM, Germany — The first day Georg Weichkopf went to work for the European Stars and Stripes, John F. Kennedy occupied the White House, the prime minister of Iraq announced it would “peacefully” annex Kuwait, U.S. troops were still based in France and a stein of German beer cost about 15 cents.
That was in June 1961, when Weichkopf joined the newspaper’s circulation department as a truck driver.
So much has changed since Weichkopf, then 22, first reported for duty. And yet over the years he has remained a pillar of professionalism around the Stripes’ compound in Griesheim, though he’s also known for exercising great levity at times.
“Georg is just full of stories,” said co-worker Astrid Herbert. “Some of them are outrageous.”
On the last day of this month, Weichkopf will climb behind the wheel of a company vehicle for the last time. After 42 years and roughly 1.4 million miles, Weichkopf is retiring. He will be honored Wednesday in a ceremony at the Griesheim compound.
“He’s a real character,” newsroom artist Peter Jaeger said. “And he’s a very intelligent man who loves traveling and trains.”
Jaeger said Weichkopf often melded those two interests, traipsing to places as far away as India and Mexico to ride some of the world’s most legendary trains and rail lines.
When Weichkopf, who was raised in northern Germany, joined the paper as a truck driver, he worked 56 hours a week, earning less than a dollar an hour. In those early years, his nightly delivery run took him to Paris, then a distribution point for troops serving in France.
Lately, he’s been retrieving coins from newspaper vending machines in Germany.
Over the years Weichkopf has logged enough miles to take him to the moon and back — three times.
“He knows every area of Germany,” said Ron Cauley, Weichkopf’s current supervisor, “and he knows where every casern is.”
And Stripes knows the place won’t be the same without him.