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Altogether, 902 White Castle team members have qualified for membership in the 25 Year Club. Of the 902, there are 306 on the active payroll, 373 are either retired or resigned, one is Chairman Emeritus, and 222 are deceased. Bill Ingram, the current White Castle president and CEO, was inducted in 1997.
Most of the "Class of 2001'' joined White Castle in 1976. Gerald Ford was president, Viking I landed on Mars and sent back photos, "Rocky'' won the Oscar for best motion picture of the year, the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series, and a gallon of gas was $.59.
This year's inductees represent nine of 16 of White Castle's major restaurant markets and two of its divisions. Six inductees are from Chicago; three from Cincinnati; two from Detroit; four from Indianapolis; two from Louisville; two from Minneapolis/St. Paul; one each from New York and New Jersey; four from St. Louis; two from the Home Office in Columbus; one from the Evendale, Ohio bakery division; and twelve from the PSB Company, White Castle's Columbus-based powder coating and metal forming division.
A wide variety of team member positions are represented in the Class of 2001, ranging from district supervisors who oversee multiple team members at several restaurants, to castle team members who have worked in the restaurants on the ``front line'' with unceasing loyalty for the past 25 years.
"It is a very special honor to be inducted into the 25 Year Club,'' said Ingram. "My grandfather joined in 1946; my father in 1959; and I finally achieved the goal in 1997. It is a very elite organization. Other team members treat 25 Year Club members with respect and awe.''
Inductees are given red carpet treatment for three days during the company's annual meeting the last week of September. The company pays for all incoming members' travel, hotel accommodations and special meals. They are also treated to tours of the Home Office and PSB facility.
The week was topped off with a limousine ride to Wedgewood Golf & Country Club in Powell, Ohio for the awards banquet. Each inductee was honored individually with a gold watch presented by Ingram.
Attendance at the 25 Year Club banquet is limited to the new inductees, local active and retired 25 Year Club members, and representatives from the highest management level positions in the company.
Of the 306 members of the 25 Year Club currently working for the company 35 are in Cincinnati; 34 in Chicago; 32 in St. Louis; 28 in Louisville; 28 work for PSB Company; 26 work at the Home Office; 23 are in Indianapolis; 20 in New York; 20 in New Jersey; 19 in Columbus; 16 in Minneapolis; 14 in Detroit; 7 at the Evendale, Ohio bakery; 2 in the Northeast Ohio restaurants, one at the Carteret, New Jersey bakery, and one works in Nashville, Tennessee.
Thirteen of the honorees have broken service; that is, they actually have more than 25 years with White Castle but at one point or another left the company and then returned. To qualify for membership, service must be continuous.
Many 25 Year Club members have family members who are also in the club; parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren. General Manager Katina Hume from St. Louis enters the 25 Year Club this year. Of her 11 brothers and sisters, almost all of them have some kind of White Castle service behind them, including car hops, warehouse supervisors, and bakery workers.