RIP – ELMER WINTER


EXPIRED: 10/22/09 – Elmer Winter, 97, came up with a great business idea when a secretary at his law firm called in sick.

He searched frantically for a typist to finish a legal brief for the state Supreme Court. They made the deadline only after a former secretary worked until dawn.

Thinking there had to be a better way, the partners came up with one: They took a chance and began something they called a temporary help agency, launching it with an investment of $7,000.The partners ran their first advertisement for temporary workers in the Milwaukee Sentinel. It read: ‘Women, work when you want as long as you want. We have a need for typists, stenographers, bookkeepers.’ The next day, there was a whole line of women applying.

They were on to something. But now they had to convince businesses that temporary help could come in and do the job.

Well, today, that business, Manpower, is a multibillion-dollar company with 30,000 employees and 4,100 offices in 82 countries.

Winter maintained an office at Manpower’s headquarters in downtown Milwaukee and, until three weeks ago, drove there from home every day. Even in the hospital two days before he died, he still called his secretary with work to be edited. He loved working.

“Your brain, use it or lose it,” he used to say. “I like to have an active mind.”

So it’s fitting that late in life, he discovered he also loved art.

He had a thing about car bumpers. He collected them from salvage yards, maneuvered and arranged them, played with shapes and sizes, turned chrome into sculpture.

So even though he’s lo longer showing up at Manpower’s Headquarters everyday, his art is still there. Alongside the Milwaukee RiverWalk District, in front of  Manpower’s downtown Milwaukee headquarters, two sculptures created by created by Winter stand high. One of his works features scores of bumpers reaching to the sky, it’s called ‘To Dream the Impossible Dream.’

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