She always made a point to greet one special customer and spend just a few extra minutes making sure he was taken care of.
She is Portia Jordan, the store manager at the Lowe’s in Delavan, Wisconsin. That special customer was Harold Bartels, a WWII veteran who visited the store almost every week.
Delavan is a small Wisconsin farming town an hour west of Milwaukee with just under 9,000 residents. The place where “The Greatest Show on Earth®” was founded in 1871. It’s a quaint, small town where you know your customers by name and no one is a stranger.
As Portia recalls, “it started out as a simple interaction”. That turned into a special friendship that spanned several years and each considered the other part of their family. Mrs. Bartels recalled how Harold looked forward to his visits with Portia and how she would attend to him even when he was unable to come in the store.
“She would go out in the parking lot, give him a hug, a bottle of water and visit while I was in the store,” Mrs. Bartels remembered.
In December of last year, the Bartels made one of their weekly trips to visit the Lowe’s in Delavan and wanted to say their usual “hello.” As Portia was coming to visit, she asked her colleague, Jason Liss, who is also a veteran if he would like to meet Harold Bartels. Of course, he did. The two spent a few minutes talking and then went about their day.
Unfortunately, Mr. Bartels suffered a stroke the next day and passed away shortly after. Portia received the news after Mr. Bartels’ family called the store to let her know. To her surprise, the family asked Portia if she would attend his funeral. Without any hesitation, she accepted and asked Jason if he would like to attend as well. As an honor to Mr. Bartels and his service to his country, Jason dressed in full military uniform for the service. At the cemetery, as family and friends said their last goodbyes, Jason had one last salute to his new friend. As he made his way to the front, Jason left a coin on his casket, a military custom to honor the fallen.
A quote by Jim Rohn reads, ‘All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.’ And that he did, with his friends, family and a store manager in Delavan, Wisconsin.
When asked if she could say one last thing to Harold Bartels, Portia put it simply: Thank you.
“I would say thank you, thank you for the time and effort you put in me, thank you for caring and treating me like one of your own. I didn’t have an impact on him, he had one on me. So, thank you.”