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80-year-old worker loves his county job
Employers also love Don Pate
ap county employee
Don Pate gets ready to go out to check a construction site.
Every employer dreams of having an employee who comes in early every morning and puts on a pot of coffee.
For people at the Liberty County Courthouse annex, Don Pate is a dream come true.   
“I can’t beat him to work,” Bob Sprinkel, assistant county administrator, said.
And although he arrives early to start the computers, copiers and coffee, Pate, who is 80, could have retired 13 years ago.
“I love the job,” Pate said.
Pate works as a county electrical and building inspector where he makes sure homes, hotels, schools and other buildings are up to standard.
Before working for the county, Pate had been in the electrical contracting industry for the past 43 years.
“We are very fortunate to have him,” Sprinkel said. “To have the energy this man has is unbelievable.
“I don’t see a man that takes very many breaks, always at the water cooler, taking two hours for lunch, I don’t see this. He gives the county a solid eight-hour day. He’s an example to all employees,” Sprinkel said.
“What better example in a day now when people come to work just for a paycheck. He comes to work because he enjoys it.”
Pate’s immediate supervisor is Paul Zechman, director of building and licensing.
“He doesn’t need a boss. He knows more than I know,” Zechman said. “He’s a wonderful man. I hope he never retires. He has the stamina and ability to get the job done.”
Pate’s only explanation is that he was “brought up to work.”
He remembers his first job as a child at a sawmill where he worked for 20 cents a day from before daybreak to dark.
Pate said he most enjoys work because of the connections he makes with people on a spiritual level.
“Why I don’t retire is I love to witness to people,” Pate said. “The county gives me the opportunity as long as I do my job first. My main focus, I try to do for the county first of all, is give them quality work. I had the privilege of leading my daddy to the Lord, it was my first experience of leading someone to the Lord.”
Pate remembers when he first started going to church and had to walk five miles to get there.
Whether it is for church or work, Pate can be seen going out of his way to serve others.
This past December, he and his wife, Ruby, cooked a surprise breakfast for the courthouse annex employees, a breakfast that included 19 dozen eggs, seven pounds of sausage and nine pounds of bacon.  
Sprinkel said it was “better than any restaurant you could ever go to. It was a feast.”
Twenty-two years ago, Pate bought four acres of land and dedicated it to God.
The landscape includes a 20-foot, eight-sided gazebo, complete with electricity, where his open invitation of use draws people to use the quiet area to pray or read the Bible. It has also been used for weddings.
“It’s something God has blessed us with and we want to bless others,” Pate said.
He and his wife also sponsor a missionary in the Dominican Republic, who has adopted a “throwaway baby” with severe health problems.
“I could retire but I wouldn’t have the extras to give to people,” Pate said. “This is why I keep working. So I can help someone else.”
“What Don is, is just a good person. That’s what we want in our employees. He sets that example,” Sprinkel said.
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