Marlyn Burch and Lloyd Zimmerman endured the harsh reality of political maneuvering and the shifting fury of weather in Kansas to complete 50 years of employment with state government.
Gov. Sam Brownback honored both men Friday on the Capitol grounds at an ice cream and cookie luncheon for state workers. Three state employees earned the right to wear 50-year pins, while 73 who served at state hospitals, universities or agencies were honored for 40 years of service.
Burch, who manages the life insurance division at the Kansas Department of Insurance, has operated under five elected commissioners. The bipartisan contingent of bosses ranged from Frank Sullivan, Fletcher Bell, Ron Todd and Kathleen Sebelius to Sandy Praeger.
"I've learned to exist in the political world," said Burch, who intends to remain two more years.
Zimmerman, who began his career with the State Highway Commission's soil survey crew Dec. 1, 1961, retired from the Kansas Department of Transportation on July 1.
He recalled chipping through 18 inches of frozen ground to test soil composition for a highway project near Pomona and the bizarre pivot of nature during a storm that punched through Hays.
"There was a dust storm with 82 mile per hour winds," Zimmerman said. "The next day it turned around and came back at 78 miles an hour."
He held a series of positions in the transportation agency, but never found the pull of a private-sector job strong enough to vacate.
"There were only a couple times I thought of transferring," Zimmerman said.
Brownback lauded the roster of state employees who dedicated much of their lives to government work.
"They're fabulous," he said. "They've given that amount of life and dedication to the state. We're got a great work force. We've got a dedicated work force. I'm proud of them, and their families are proud of them."
The third person to reach the 50-year mark was Roger Lowe, an administrator at Wichita State University. Twenty-one members of the 40-year group were from Kansas State University, 14 from The University of Kansas and five from Emporia State University.