Landfill employees honor dead coworkerPublished 4:07pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012
For 30 minutes, there was no activity at the Southeast Berrien County Landfill — only silence.
Employees stood near the entrance to the landfill and watched the funeral procession go by for their co-worker and friend, Thomas H. Cloutier, who died Nov. 7.
By all accounts, Cloutier had been a well-liked and respected heavy-equipment operator at the landfill, where he began working in 1992.
“He was one of the best equipment operators we knew,” said Sonny Fuller, landfill general manager. “You could put him on anything, and he’d shine.”
Employees placed a Caterpillar D6 Dozer — Cloutier’s main vehicle — at the entrance to the landfill. They placed two American flags on either side of the vehicle’s blade and draped a black cloth over the blade as a temporary memorial.
Employees also lined up the heavy equipment and turned the lights on as the funeral procession drove past on Nov. 14. An American flag was hanging from the raised boom of an excavator.
“Tom gave 20 years of his life to the landfill, and we thought it would be appropriate and respectful to honor him and his family,” Fuller said.
Cloutier, a 1956 graduate of Niles High School, was a veteran from the Viet Nam era serving in the U.S. Army. He had just celebrated his 45th wedding anniversary with his wife, Sharon Elaine, on Nov. 4.