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Four Generations: The Story of a Pratt & Whitney Family

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

For someone who just joined the company a year ago, Tim Leber has a long history with Pratt & Whitney. Even as a kid, he was part of the P&W family: a family that included his father, grandfather, great grandfather, siblings and aunts and uncles.

"Last October, my dad completed his 44th year with Pratt," Tim said. "My grandfather and my great grandfather also worked at Pratt. Together, we have well over 100 years of service to the company in our family."

It all started around the time of the Great Depression, when Tim's great grandfather, Edmund F. Leber Sr., joined the company as a toolmaker and his grandfather, James, worked in the oil house earning 50 cents per hour.

Eventually, James went back to school and became a layout inspector. He retired in the mid-1980s. Active in the Manchester Little League for about 20 years as coach, commissioner and president, he was instrumental in the 1970s construction of a town baseball field that was ultimately named for him. James's brother, Edmund Jr., also worked for the company before he joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1936; he eventually would die in service to the country in Normandy, France, on July 10, 1944.

James's wife, Stella, worked for the company during World War II and six of their seven children worked at Pratt & Whitney. Daughters Noreen and Rhoda worked in East Hartford in Engineering and Medical, respectively. Identical twins Jonathan and Peter were bench inspectors and worked for the company for nearly 10 years each. Son Chris worked in machine repair for 14 years. And Edmund J. Leber, Tim's dad, started at the East Hartford facility in 1972 in the jet engine metal smith apprentice program. He also worked in Quality Assurance before becoming a manufacturing engineer in the late 1970s.

In 1992, Ed relocated his young family to Maine and began work at the North Berwick plant. "The timing was perfect," he said. "We were looking for a change and we love North Berwick. It is everything we thought it would be."

Like his dad before him, Ed urged his son Tim to apply to Pratt & Whitney. "Growing up, I wanted to branch out," Tim said. "I worked as a cook for a while and then went to school for precision manufacturing. I applied to Pratt & Whitney because the company offers good jobs and all of the opportunities in the world to make your life exactly what you want it to be."

Tim has just begun North Berwick's four-year Manufacturing Technologist Machinist Apprenticeship Program, which offers participants 15-week assignments in a variety of specialty areas.

Upon completion of the program, Tim will have earned an associate's degree, as well as a State of Maine Apprentice Certificate as a manufacturing technologist/machinist.

For Tim, the fact that his dad also started in a company apprentice program holds deep meaning. "It means a lot to me because my dad started out in the apprentice program years ago, so it's a full circle kind of feeling for me," he said.

And there's one more Pratt & Whitney family connection: Tim's sister, Greta, worked as a summer intern at Pratt & Whitney and earned a UTC scholarship that helped pay for her schooling at The University of Maine.

"It feels good to be a fourth-generation Pratt employee," Tim said. "I am proud of our legacy."

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