By Brian Hvinden, External Affairs Officer
As nearly 27 months of effort comes to a close, there will be one very visible reminder of FEMA’s disaster housing operation – Wheatland Village. However, while under FEMA management, the site was known as Virgil Workman Village. On Sept. 24 as the housing mission came to a close, FEMA staff provided Wheatland Village management with a plaque that honors their departed colleague and the site’s former namesake.
The plaque reads as follows:
Virgil Workman Village
The FEMA group housing complex formerly located on this site was named in memory of Virgil Workman, a longtime FEMA employee and nationally recognized disaster housing expert.
A U.S. Army veteran and retired coal miner, Workman began his FEMA career a decade ago in his home state of West Virginia and logged 29 total deployments from coast to coast. He made a significant positive impact on FEMA and many of the local agencies and individuals he worked with over the years.
Virgil was known for his work ethic, kindness and hysterical colloquialisms. “My momma done raised one fool, and that’s my brother,” was one of his favorites. “Ya gotta start workin’ before you can stop workin’” was another.
He also earned a reputation for nicknaming both his family members and FEMA co-workers. His youngest children were called “Peanut” and “Punkin” and many of the names he bestowed upon co-workers stuck long after their assignment with Virgil was over.
Virgil Workman passed away Aug. 19, 2011 while working on the development of the park that now nears his name. He was part of the dedicated housing team helping area residents recover from the devastating 2011 Mouse River Flood. He will forever remain in the memories of his FEMA colleagues and friends.