Courtesy of Anuta Research
Willard Rappleye, known as, “plugger, energetic, polite and willing,” worked at Lloyd Manufacturing, attending to all injuries in the plant except those that required the attention of a physician. Being a man of action, he was urged to go to college to become a doctor. 
Courtesy of Anuta Research

Willard Rappleye, known as, “plugger, energetic, polite and willing,” worked at Lloyd Manufacturing, attending to all injuries in the plant except those that required the attention of a physician. Being a man of action, he was urged to go to college to become a doctor. 

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Willard Rappleye worked in the office at Lloyd Manufacturing Co. in pre-1920. Colleagues remembered him as an office worker “pushing a pen.” They also remembered him as a man of ambition and “earnest endeavor.”

Fellow workers also recalled that he didn’t necessarily like what he was doing but he did it because he had to make a living for his family. Not a person to sit around and sulk at his desk, he was a man of action. When someone at work was injured — and injuries on the job were frequent in those days — he went into action to treat the injured.

He was making less in wages than some of the workers on the assembly lines. He was never a “clock-watcher” waiting for the factory whistle to sound at the end of a shift. Workers described him as a “plugger, energetic, polite and willing.” 

One day he would bandage an injured finger. The next day he would wrap a lacerated arm. It wasn’t long afterwards that he was attending to all injuries in the plant except those that required the attention of a physician.

You might describe him as a one-man emergency aid responder rushing to the aid of workers in the area’s largest manufacturing plant where injuries happened often. The rules of safety and the presence of emergency rescue squads were non-existent in those years.

This is where Rappleye’s ambition and devotion to helping others helped him attain success in the medical field. Medical doctors in Menominee and Marinette had recognized his work in treating workers injured in plant accidents and encouraged him to attend college. After saving up enough money for his tuition and other college costs, packaged together with academic scholarships, he enrolled at Harvard.

The Lloyd Shop News proudly featured a story about the former factory office worker in a 1920 publication. The company news publication didn’t identify Rappleye’s specific degree coming out of Harvard other than to refer to him as “Dr. Rappleye.”

He worked in clinics and hospitals in the Boston area before moving to California. Helping mankind was always Rappleye’s main goal in life. While setting up a practice in the Los Angeles area, Dr. Rappleye was offered a $25,000 position, a tempting sum of money in the pre-1920 period. He rejected the offer and instead accepted one for $8,000 in compensation to join the medical team at the renowned Rockerfeller Institute.

Dr. Rappleye was put in charge of a $2 million fund for medical research, a handsome figure for the age.

The man who laid down his pen and first aid kit in a factory office in a small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to pursue a professional medical career never forgot the smell of dust and the noise of machinery in the workplace. He returned to the Menominee plant that produced baby buggies and a variety of other products to visit with plant workers.

He was a symbol of turning dreams and ambition into reality on a much bigger stage. And he never forgot his roots where it all started.

In addition to the Page One feature story on Dr. Rappleye, the Lloyd Shop News lauded his work in an editorial.

“Opportunity is the ability to find one’s self and then to have the guts to stick to the discovery. Many men measure opportunity in the dollar gigs. They’re dead wrong. Well, Willard Rappleye knew his opportunity and arrived when he found that he was meant to be a ‘doc.’ He was brave enough to keep chasing opportunity through college although he had to earn his room-and-board while he did his college work. That takes nerve,” noted the editorial.

The opinion piece also had some words for those workers who didn’t think big.

“There are men and women in this institution who could be doing bigger and better things than making baby carriages. There are persons here who should be artists, nurses, doctors, lawyers and other things,” the opinion piece continued. “There are persons who should be doing higher class work right in this factory than they are doing. They know it and they alone can bring about such change as to make opportunity spell ‘success’ for them,” it continued.

The editorial writer pointed out the Lloyd company wants “every man and woman who have found their opportunities to grasp them and put them through so that we can some day laud them just as we are lauding Willard Rappleye today.”

The opinion article was an old-fashioned pep talk by a company who wanted its employees to pursue opportunities to better themselves.

In a related story, the Lloyd Shop News focused on the climb of twin brothers employed by the company — Claude M. and Clyde B. Dalrymple. They began their employment as laborers but were not content to remain in that line of work. So with confidence, perseverance and aggressiveness they forged a long and successful career with the company.

The “Dals,” as they were nicknamed, were born on a farm in Lower Michigan, later moved to Benton Harbor, Mich., and eventually wound up in Langford, S.D. Farming was their occupation until they decided to seek other employment.

C.M. made the move first. He left farm life for the bustling city of Minneapolis at the turn of the 20th century. He got into sales as a piano solicitor. Sales were slow so he went to work selling coupons for photograph promotions. Then he spotted a newspaper ad about a job selling “sidelines.” He didn’t know what “sidelines” were but applied for the position. It turned out to be a company owned by Marshall B. Lloyd.

After being passed over for the job, C.M. made Mr. Lloyd an offer to work for nothing until he proved himself. Lloyd reconsidered and C.M. joined the company’s sales staff selling “sidelines,” which turned out to be wire doll carts. He worked the South and North Dakota region and impressed Lloyd so much he was named a regional sales manager after two years with the company.

In the meantime, his twin brother, C.B., quit farming to accept a job working in a big factory in Minneapolis for $1.25 per day. He also managed a pool parlor. In 1902, C.B. was hired to sell doll carts in Iowa. He left the company for a brief spell, but returned to the Lloyd Company five years later when it had relocated to Menominee.

C.B. was responsible for selling doll carts and baby buggies in Minnesota, South and North Dakota and Wisconsin. He became one of the top salesmen on the Lloyd sales team.

The Lloyd Shop News used the grit and determination of the Darlymple twins as a model for people who work hard will benefit in the workplace.

Life was awkward and uncomfortable in the early 20th century when the “Dals” set out to seek a fresh start. They had a lot to do in the success and growth of a company that in its heyday was the largest employer of the Twin Cities.

Willard Rappleye and the Dalrymple twins were three men who weren’t afraid to take the risks in life. The Lloyd Shop News has kept their stories alive more than a century later.