William Lamphere’s 50 Years of Dedication
After 50 years of dedicated service to the Telco industry, Siren Telephone prepares to say goodbye to long time employee William Lamphere, or as we know him, Bill. Bill has been a part of the Siren Telephone Family since 1970 and was given the title of Central Office Manager in 1990. He grew up in Chicago, spending his summers in Siren, Wisconsin, with family. In 1958 Bill’s family made the move up to Siren, where Bill spent his school years and graduated from Siren High school. After high school, Bill completed a two-year degree at Eau Claire Technical College with a computer major. After college, Bill intended to go into the radio business, but was offered a job at Siren Telephone and decided it was the job for him. Little did he know he would be spending the rest of his working years with the company.
At the young age of 20, Bill started at Siren Telephone on September 7th, 1970, was one of two employees’. In his new position, he operated the stepper switch. Later, Bills and his wife of 47 years, Marcia, raised their five children in the town of Siren: Amy (Darren), Chris (Ashley), Alison (Sam), Alicia (Matt), and Tony. Bill has also been blessed with nine grand kids that he adores.
For five years, Bill was on call every weekend and every holiday. If there were any troubles, he was the man that could fix them. He has fond memories of taking his daughter on those calls with him. He says back in those days’ phone service, and customer service was one-in-the-same. A woman once called and explained that her phone was not working and needed Bill to come to help her. When he arrived at the house, he couldn’t seem to find anything wrong with the phone. After spending some time on the trouble, he called the general manager and explained that there was nothing wrong with the phone. The manager replied with, “did you eat pie” yes, “did you drink coffee” yes, “did you sit down and talk for a while” yes “then you have done your job.” Bill said this was when he realized when you work in a small town; you are more than just a telephone man.
In Bills 50 years at Siren Telephone, he has experienced significant changes in the telephone industry. Twenty years into working only with telephones, a new wave of technology surfaced, Dial-Up internet. Followed by DSL Broadband and then to High-Speed Fiber Broadband. Changing gears from working primarily with telephone lines to now mostly internet service, Bill had to learn on the fly to provide the best service possible. Siren Telephone’s Outdoor Plant Manager, Kent, says, “Bill has always been eager to learn, no matter how advanced the technology got. He started on a stepper switch and is now providing internet, phone, and TV service for a large portion of Burnett County and portions of Polk and Washburn County.” Along with adding internet service, came updating equipment from a stepper switch to the DSM10 and later to the C15 Soft Switch. When Bill attended the C15 training, a guest speaker asked if anyone could identify the object on the screen. Bill was the only one to raise his hand, responding, “That is a Stepper Switch,” the speaker laughed and said, “Wow, you have been in the industry for a long time.”
Bill has also endured some challenging times in his 50 years at Siren Telephone. The most memorable for Bill, and many people in the Village of Siren, was the F3 tornado that touched down in Siren at 8:20 pm on June 18th, 2001. This half-mile long tornado devastated most of Siren, almost completely flattening the east side of town. Bill remembers the general manager Sid Sherstad coming to Bills home to pick him up to assess the damage. Most phone lines were down, including Bills, so he had no idea what had happened in Siren. Luckily when Bill and Sid reached Siren, the central office was unharmed. However, there was a lot of work to do in the coming months.
Bill is looking forward to enjoying the simplicities of life in retirement. He is excited to spend more time with his grand kids and be able to go to their games and other events. He is also looking forward to getting back into fishing and woodworking. Bill says he will miss the routine of his job and the close-knit connections he has made over the years. After 50 years at Siren Telephone, it is time to say goodbye. We are very sad to see Bill go, but we are excited for him to enjoy his years of retirement. Thank you for your service, Bill!