Former Mitsubishi Family Back In School En Masse

Jul 22, 2016

Ralph Timan relaxing in the garden at his Minier home
Credit Ralph Timan

This weekend marks a year since Mitsubishi Motors told the community and its workers the auto plant in Normal would close.

Many workers have had tremendous changes in that year. Among them Ralph Timan and his wife Mitzi.

Ralph Timan is a 27 year Mitsubishi veteran and former UAW local President. Mitzi Timan is the operations specialist in support of the school of nursing at Illinois Wesleyan University and all around support for a family that has five people in college at the same time.

Ralph Timan says he still thinks about the closure more than he should.

"The personal commitment that you put into your work and the things that you tried to do to make a difference, it was all just taken away," said Ralph Timan.

"I feel like Ralph has really shown that he is a survivor, and moving forward," said Mitzi Timan.

But, Mitzi says she does have to guide things from time to time.

"What I like to do is maybe, ok for the next ten minutes we can have a pity party about this if you will. But, after that you have to just move on. Because you have a hard time moving forward if you have one foot in the back," said Mitzi Timan.

Ralph has gone back to school to learn medical equipment technology. Mitzi is finishing up an advanced degree. One child just graduated from college. Three others are still enrolled.

Not everyone is as focused on the future as the Timan family.

"Lately we have run into a couple friends from the plant. Someone told me that they had applied for over eighty jobs, still looking for a job. And that weighs on me," said Mitzi Timan.

"We met up with someone in a restaurant not too long ago and he was telling us his oddyssey. And we had a great brainstorming session. And I thought, wow, why can't we help more people," said Mitzi Timann.

Ralph said he recently talked with an old work friend who is trying to start a business rehabbing homes. But, he doesn't have all the permits and licenses he needs. Timan said he suggested the man go back to school for HVAC (heating and cooling) certification that would make the business easier.  Timan said it's just a matter of being open and talking about the resources you know.
 

Mitzi added that Ralph also keeps busy as a township trustee, serves as Student Government Association Vice President at Heartland Community College, and is the Financial Secretary for the Bloomington-Normal Trades and Labor Assembly.

Charlie Schlenker talked with Mitzi and Ralph about their transitions and a return to school.