Familiar face in downtown bidding career farewell
Tecumseh resident and downtown ‘mainstay’ Nadine Seitz will be retiring from Schmidt and Sons Pharmacy on October 27, but she was just 14 when she started working at The Diner, beginning a career in the city that would span more than half a century. Nadine said Henry Hamilton, who built the diner, later sold it to his sister-in-law Mary Ann Hamilton, and Nadine and her mother started working there. Soon, Nadine’s uncles purchased the restaurant and remodeled it.
“There have been a lot of changes there over the years,” she said, adding that she worked there for three or four years. Nadine also attended a program known as “cooperative training,” which later became Vo-Tech, then started working at United Bank and Trust when it was on the downtown’s four corners.
“I graduated from Tecumseh High School in 1952 and stayed at the bank until my oldest daughter was born in 1953,” she said. Nadine and her husband, Raymond, who built boats at Meyers, had two daughters, Vickie and Lynne. She primarily worked as a bookkeeper at the bank.
When Ken-Ray Drugs was owned by brothers Kenneth and Raymond Dubrinsky, Nadine remembers walking in the store to apply for a job.
“They took me into the office and wanted me to start the same day,” she said. “I told them I had to go home and tell my mother, who was living with me, and make arrangements for picking up the girls.” She started out as a clerk at Ken-Ray and soon became a manager. “I did just about everything there until it closed in 1994,” she said.
Nadine also worked for about a year in a large women’s dress shop on the Boulevard, owned by Linda Seidel. “I worked with Sharon Martin, DJ’s wife, and Charlene Williams, and we had good clothes,” she said. “Everybody missed that shop when it closed. We used to have some wonderful places downtown like Rosecrans Department Store, Osburns, lots of dress shops like Goldie Watkins’ shop, the Tog Shop, Trickey’s, and two men’s shops. At one time, you could get everything you needed downtown, but the big box stores ruined that.”
Nadine lost her husband to a heart attack when they both were 41 years old. “I had to work, with hardly any interruptions,” she said. “Somebody had to take care of things, keep the lawn mowed and everything else that had to be done.”
She became employed by Schmidt and Sons Pharmacy in 1995, working as a clerk and taking responsibility for the sale of durable medical supplies such as wheelchairs, crutches and diabetic supplies.
“Nadine’s strong work ethic is amazing. We’ve told her to stop moving so fast and running through the store,” Harvey Schmidt said with a chuckle. “She’s always been very hard working and just leaves nothing left undone. She’s very personable and I’m always amazed when we’re open for different events like the Christmas Open House. Nadine never met a stranger; she always reaches out to people, asking where they’re from, and shares different things about the community. She’s a strong supporter of this community.”
Nadine said she was one of the original members of the Downtown Development Authority with Schmidt, Doug Eggleston, Rochelle Bird, Barb McCann and others.
“It was more like what we now know as the CBA (Central Business Association) and I was treasurer of that for 13 years,” she said. Nadine also served as a Tecumseh City Council member for eight years in the late 80s and early 90s.
“Our agendas included such things as the beautification of the downtown, and Lenawee Stamping was just coming in. We helped initiate that, and the purchase of the business park out there. Jerome Kisscorni was city manager then.”
She’s also been active on the Chamber of Commerce, the Tecumseh Civic Auditorium board, and helped lead a committee to find property to build a new fire station. “I’ve been on a lot of committees,” Nadine said. She still feels the loss of Tecumseh Products and lives not far from the property and is glad to see refurbishing taking place there. “We worked very hard as a DDA downtown and as businesses emptied out we sought out people to fill them up, and got rid of parking meters. I think our city manager, the mayor and council tries to do their best for downtown and Tecumseh is a great place to live. I liked the old signs that said: ‘Tecumseh, a pleasant place to live.’”
At 79, she believes it’s just time to retire, although like Harvey, she said her daughters are often telling her, “Mom, you’ve got to slow down.” But Nadine says she’s just a Type A personality and walks fast and moves fast. She fell last January, however, injuring her knee pretty badly, and that necessitated cutting her work hours to just Saturdays. Her last day in the store will be Saturday, Oct. 27, when a reception will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the pharmacy. Harvey encourages people to stop by and wish her well.
“I love this town and I love the people in it and I’m going to miss my customers,” said Nadine. “Luckily I’m out and about and will probably see a lot of them. You just have to love the work and have to love the people or you couldn’t stay this long.” She said she’s not going far, and has offered to fill in at the store if needed.
Nadine recently signed up for an exercise program at Carter Rehabilitation Center and also plans to volunteer at Herrick ProMedica Hospital.
“I officially start next month in the gift shop,” she said.
“We’re going to miss her,” said Harvey. “She’s been around the downtown a long time and worked with a lot of people.”