SCHENECTADY — Despite the passage of nearly a half-century, Colleen Colleton Munger’s memories of her grandfather remain as vivid as ever.
After punching out at GE, the two would stop at the newsstand anchoring the entrance, where Gerald Minogue would buy his granddaughter candy.
There were the family dinners, and quiet moments sitting on his lap at on the front porch of 139 Duane Ave., across from the former Petta’s Restaurant.
“He was the love of my grandmother’s life,” Munger said. “He loved his family, loved to travel and was a hard worker.”
Now the unexpected return of his employee badge is bringing those memories back.
The fuse was lit last week when a member of the Facebook group “Our Schenectady Memories” relayed a message from Mark Mroz, a GE employee who found a badge roughly the size of a postage stamp while rearranging his office.
“Wish I could find info on this guy,” Mroz wrote in a post displaying the badge, which he said dated back to 1954.
The photo, captioned “GJ Minogue,” was flanked by gold leafs. A low four-digit employee identification number, No. 3,578, indicated Minogue was an early employee.
“Maybe a good GE historian can start the trail of clues to finding his family,” Mroz wrote.
Sleuthing by group members turned up potential leads. Several days later, Munger checked in on the page and identified the man as her grandfather.
Munger, 55, was in disbelief.
“I immediately started to cry,” she said.
The pair met at Wolff's Biergarten in downtown Schenectady, where he handed over the artifact.
“He’s a sweetheart of a guy,” she said.
FRIEND TO EVERYONE
Minogue began his career driving the company bus and ambulance before becoming a chauffeur, shuttling top company brass around the sprawling campus in a limo.
One high-profile passenger was then-actor Ronald Reagan, host of the long-running radio and television program “General Electric Theater.”
Minogue’s friendly nature was tailor-made for the job.
“He would meet you on the street and have an hour-long conversation with you,” Munger said.
And he easily formed friendships with fellow travelers on family vacations.
He died on his lunch break in 1971.
“He often took a quick nap in the back of his car and on the day of his death, he just never woke up,” said Munger.
He was just 58.
Munger, who works as an early care child coordinator at Capital District YMCA, is now the guardian of the family’s history,.
She sifted through other reminders of her grandfather’s life: photos, licenses, work documents.
Now the badge will join them.
Facebook commentators appeared delighted that Munger was reunited with her grandfather, if only through an artifact of the past.
“Many fond memories of seeing your grandfather park the limo when he would stop home for a quick second to see your grandma,” wrote Rhoda Bylina. “All the neighborhood kids would gather around to see the big black car.”
“I know,” wrote Munger. “I was only 7 when he passed but I still remember it like it was yesterday.”