Whirlpool Corporation’s Cleveland, Tennessee, manufacturing facility sits within walking distance of a tiny neighborhood that was devastated by a tornado late Easter Sunday, 2020.
Seventy-four-year-old Whirlpool retiree J.L. Cross and his wife, Ruby, were among those struck hardest in the powerful storms. The twister left the couple homeless, ripping their house from its foundation. All of their belongings were lost. The only things they had afterwards were the clothes on their backs, an empty lot, and each other.
With very little property insurance and living on a fixed income, the Cross family’s future seemed bleak. But, a sudden turn of fate took place when a fellow Vietnam veteran stepped in to help rebuild the house for free.
Generosity continued to pour in when Operation Finally Home (a national, non-profit organization dedicated to building homes for wounded, sick or injured veterans and their families) backed this build.
Once the project was complete, it was only appropriate that the company in which J.L. retired from would furnish all new kitchen and laundry appliances.
During his time at Whirlpool Corporation, J.L. set an example of hard work, perseverance, and dedication that few will ever match. For the nearly four decades following his 11 years of active duty in the U.S. Army, J.L. spent each working day on the assembly line, ending his civilian career with a perfect attendance award.
J.L.’s daughter, Schnell Cross recalls her father’s life lessons. “Being at work was important. You didn’t call out of work. He was very dedicated and he took pride in it,” Schnell said. “He taught me you have to work for what you want in life.”
Work on the home was completed in September. Unfortunately, J.L. only lived in his new home for about a week before quietly passing away there from cancer. However, he and Ruby did have the chance to renew their wedding vows inside the home.
Schnell feels confident that her father left this world on a positive note. “I believe that my dad’s rejoicing in Heaven. I know that.”