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Boss ‘family’ enjoys reunion

They worked side by side for years in the big red brick building on E. Commerce Street in Greenville. The gloves they made went to suppliers all over the world.

And they manufactured more gloves than anyone else on the planet.

The doors have been closed at Boss Manufacturing Company for close to a decade now.

But the first Saturday of every September, former employees and their families come together at Beeland Park to share fun, fellowship, good food and fond memories.

“Enjoy this,” said event organizer O’Neil Kennedy as he spoke to the crowd.

“This is YOUR reunion.”

And enjoy themselves they did. Hugs were shared and hand fans passed around for signatures as laughter rang through the community center.

“We lost quite a few folks this past year. However, we still want to keep doing it as long as they want to come,” Kennedy said.

The Reigel Manufacturing Plant opened in Greenville in 1951. Boss Manufacturing took over the operation on Labor Day in 1961. The plant ceased operation in 2000.

“We have folks who worked there nearly 50 years – and it was the best working bunch in Butler County, and I mean that,” Kennedy said. “I would put them up against anybody in the state. Sickness, rain, snow, heat or cold – they came to work. Nobody got rich working for Boss, but it put food on our tables.”

He looked around the room at the smiling faces, and smiled himself.

“They want to be together and fellowship together.”

Attendees enjoyed a potluck lunch featuring fried chicken, ham, plenty of home-style vegetables, deviled eggs and pear salad along with good southern desserts such as banana pudding, lemon icebox pie and coconut cake.

“You know, this is really like a family reunion. We were like a family there,” said former employee Ada Lee Williams.

“People would help each other out.”

63 individuals signed the registry, but an estimated 80-plus people were actually in attendance. The reunion has been an annual event since 2002.

“We’ll have another one next year,” Kennedy said to a burst of applause.