By Jim MacKinnon
Akron Beacon Journal
AKRON — In July 1898, F.A. Seiberling hired Ed Hippensteal to start cleaning up an old strawboard factory in Akron to turn it into the first home for the still unincorporated Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Hippensteal and 12 others, including Seiberling, are memorialized in a plaque on the Goodyear clock tower off East Market Street as one of the “Old Guard” — the original 13 employees of Goodyear, all hired before 1900.
Fast-forward 114 years: On Dec. 31, Hippensteal’s great-grandson, Ed Rueschman, is taking a buyout and will retire from Goodyear after more than 46 years with the Akron tire maker.
Rueschman, like his father, grandfather and namesake great-grandfather, all worked for Goodyear. You could say Goodyear, through its first hired employee, Hippensteal, has been a four-generation family business ever since that day in 1898.
The four men have 163 years of combined service, said Rueschman, 65, who lives in Uniontown.
“I’m amazed I was able to be a part of that,” said Rueschman. The Steelworker drives trucks, picking up and delivering parts as part of his responsibilities in maintenance.
He started in 1965, just three weeks after graduating from Ellet High School. His father had suggested he take a job with Goodyear.
“I was thinking of more of a truck driving career” at the time, Rueschman said. But he agreed to apply at Goodyear and soon started working a midnight factory shift. His work at Goodyear was interrupted in 1967, when he entered the Army and served in the infantry in Vietnam, returning to civilian life in Akron about two years later.
Rueschman did not know about his family’s connection to Goodyear’s founding until much later in life.
“I just knew my dad and my grandpa worked here,” he said.
But in the 1980s his great-aunt told him that his great-grandfather, on his mother’s side, was the very first person hired at Goodyear.
His great-grandfather worked for Goodyear from 1898 to the year he died, 1946, for 48 years of service. The book The Goodyear Story mentions Hippensteal and includes pictures of his great-grandfather. Rueschman was born the year after his great-grandfather died.
His grandfather, John F. Rueschman, worked at Goodyear from 1915 to 1948, and his father, John L., started at Goodyear in 1941. All four men worked factory jobs.
Goodyear referred to Rueschman’s family history in 1998 when it rededicated the clock tower with the original “Old Guard” plaque that had been lost for years, likely removed after a fire in 1984. The plaque was found inside a remote section of Goodyear’s Plant One building in time for the ceremony that year.