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Longtime Hardy Murphy employee retires after 35 years of service

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite
Don Wood, a recent retiree from the Hardy Murphy Coliseum receives a plaque of recognition from General Manager Jeff Storms in honor of his 35 years of service.

Late last month, Donald Wood, a longterm employee of the Hardy Murphy Coliseum retired after 35 years of Service. On Thursday afternoon he was invited back to attend the organization’s board of trustees meeting where he received a special plaque to commemorate his many years of service and dedication.

General Manager Jeff Storms said that Wood knows all of the various ins, outs and eccentricities of the old building as well as the locations for all of the various shut off valves. Wood said he’s still happy to answer a question and even come in to show the staff how various operations should be done.

“The big joke is that I’ve forgotten more about this place than some people will ever learn,” Wood said. “So I’m still happy to be able to help out when I can.

Wood said he first started working for the Hardy Murphy Coliseum in the mid-80s. His father was also employed by the facility at the time, and he taught young Don some of the skills he would need as a welder.

“I started out doing part-time and welding, and then as time went on, they just hired me full-time,” Wood said. “But I kind of gave that up after my dad got into a welding accident and passed away from that.”

He said one of his favorite things about working at the coliseum was the freedom to be outside working in nature.

“I liked working out in the open and switching things around,” Wood said. “My first manager showed me how to work the grounds, and I got to be pretty good at that.”

He said some of the biggest challenges of the job were completely resetting various event layouts for two or more events scheduled closely together.

“We’re best under pressure, and that’s when we get things done,” Wood said. “In the winter time the greatest challenge is making sure the waterlines in this old building aren’t freezing.”

During his tenure, he also saw many changes to the coliseum itself as well as changes taking place on its grounds.

When I first started the inside of the coliseum was covered in wires and insulation and other things, so we tore all that down to make sure we were able to access the catwalk,” Wood said. We also tore down all the old wooden ceiling tiles and put in the newer ones we had now.”

“One of the biggest projects we did was converting the old barns into the new covered barns,” he said.

Now that he is retired he plans to spend his time working around his house and spending more time with family.

“I’ve got my house paid off and you know that happens when you pay something off — it starts breaking down,” Wood said. “So I’ve got to keep that up, and I’ve got a little gazebo outside and I’m working on putting in a fenced yard. My wife and I have also been blessed with grandchildren, and I’ve got four of them down in Texas, so I would like to go see them before they get into college.”