Last week, my Facebook page blew up.
A news story about a 97-year-old man who has worked for a
Fred Kirkpatrick, or Mr. K as he prefers to be known, is now the musuem curator and archivist for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Fort Smith. As I watched the segment, I knew I had to meet Mr. K! So Coca-Cola Journey videographer Hannah Nemer and I quickly made plans to do just that.
As we flew to Arkansas on Monday to meet the living Coca-Cola legend, I did the math in my head. He started with the bottler in 1938, and our company archives was founded a year later... so he was around before Coca-Cola even had an archives!
Mr. K began his tenure at Fort Smith Coca-Cola as an office clerk, and after a three-and-a-half-year stint in the Army during World War II, returned to the plant to become office manager. He later became head of production and oversaw all bottling and delivery operations at the plant. When he reached retirement age, Mr. K continued to come to the plant to create a museum on the second floor of the facility.
Mr. K’s dedication to the space is obvious and he uses the artifacts to tell a wonderful chronological story of both
During our conversation, Mr. K wove in stories on how the business has changed during his eight decades of selling
Mr. K has one of the only complete set of personal Coca-Cola Service Pins I have seen. Every five years he was awarded a pin noting his years of service with a silhouette of a
I was excited when he gave me one to add to the Archives Collection. I have already begun to work on what we can give him to celebrate his 80th anniversary in January 2018.
Ted Ryan is director of heritage communications at The Coca-Cola Company.
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