Electrician breaks circuit on current career

Over and out . . . Russell Stewart puts his tools down for the final time. Mr Stewart retired on Thursday from being an electrician. PHOTO: BEN ANDREWS

After 57 years as an electrician, Russell Stewart has flicked off the switch.
On Thursday, he finished his final day of work at Connor & Fitzpatrick Betta Electrical, in Gore.
It was the end of a half century-long career that began with an electrical apprenticeship at the Otago Electric Power Board, in Balclutha.
‘‘I’ve liked the job and it has challenges,” Mr Stewart said.
‘‘There’s always something different to do.’’

In 1966, Dom Webster, then manager of the Otago Electric Power Board, offered Mr Stewart a five-year electrical apprenticeship.
‘‘I went over there and I’ve enjoyed it ever since,’’ he said.
He completed the apprenticeship in 1971 and took a job at Connor & Fitzpatrick Betta Electrical, where he stayed for the next five decades.
‘‘I’ve liked Gore. It’s a nice, friendly place. You get on well with everybody.
‘‘There’s always something different — no day is the same.’’

He enjoyed the work and especially liked meeting new people through his job.
Mr Stewart would often be greeted on the street on a first name basis because of his name tag, he said.
Over the past 50 years, he had noticed many changes in the electrical industry.
‘‘When we first started, we didn’t have cellphones, we didn’t have battery drills. It was all mechanical tools.’’
At 77, Mr Stewart decided it was a good time to step away from work.
‘‘I’m still fit and healthy and I still enjoy it, but it’s time.’’

In retirement he would work through the list of jobs that needed to be done around his house, he said.
That would include painting the interior and exterior of the house himself.
‘‘I’m not one to sit around. I like to do something and I’ve always been that way.
‘‘There’s always something to do around home.’’
He would not, however, do the electrical jobs himself.
‘‘Someone else can do it. I’m not doing it and I’ve told them all.’’