12 min read

Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

Jobs and Careers

My Fascination With the Law

I never set out to work for a law firm; I'm not sure I even considered myself equipped or capable of doing anything like that, but the personnel office at a downtown law firm had called the school asking if there was anyone they would recommend to hire for an entry-level position. I was the top recommendation. I suppose that was an honor though I'm sure God had His hand in it because I was still so very introverted!

My job with Shapiro, Kendis & Petro was challenging. However, when I was approached (nearly kidnapped) by a client while waiting for the bus one afternoon, I knew it was time to leave. The clientele rarely consisted of people I would feel comfortable around which made my decision to leave much easier.

Not long after the near-kidnapping, I was hired by Thompson, Hine and Flory working for two young lawyers (Jim Pickett and Andy Fabens). I was soon reassigned to the one lawyer I loved working for: Andrew L. Fabens, III. He treated me like family; to this day I sometimes wonder if I ever should have left him. He was training me to do more than the other girls at the firm (they were jealous). I had literally become a paralegal with a lot of responsibility and eager to learn and do more.

Unfortunately, I allowed some of the talk among the girls to pressure me to look for another job. I was offered a job with higher pay at Jacobson, Nuremberg, Heller & McCarthy, a Personal Injury firm the summer after we were married – it was not a good fit. Thankfully, our newly married life would lead us as a couple in a much different direction and gave me a valid reason to leave there!

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If I could go back and do things over, I would never have left Thompson, Hine and Flory and pursued a law degree. But, honestly, I can see where that may have gotten me into trouble as my relationship with Andy was growing close – nothing illicit or anything like that, but we were closer than we probably should have been. He served as a sounding board for me. I helped him care for his wife and kids by doing his shopping and other errands for him. For instance, when he wanted to surprise his family with a dog, we went together in his Audi, picked up the dog and, after he dropped me off back at the office, he took it home to his family. He trusted me with his credit cards as I shopped at places like Halle's and Sterling Linder, etc., for lingerie, clothing, and perfumes for his wife. And I did all that on company time! No wonder the other girls in the office were jealous!

Once we had moved and settled in California, I was able to get a temporary job with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. Once that assignment was over, I was hired by Mr. Henry (cannot remember the firm name) in Fountain Valley. He was from Xenia, Ohio, so we had some things in common. He was an older gentleman nearing retirement; he was a joy to work with! He would call me in to help work on estate planning and probate files while I was assigned to a younger attorney who specialized in personal injury. I left that firm when I got pregnant with Andrew and the doctor put me on disability due to a high risk pregnancy.

After we moved to Huntington Beach, I was hired by a firm in Newport Beach that offered me a job as a paralegal doing personal injury cases. It was a horrible drive during rush hour in Orange County. The freeways were always packed which made the commute slow. Occasionally I would take the PCH which ran along the shoreline to Newport but it took about as long as the freeways. Our office was in the penthouse suites of the tallest building in Newport at the time. Sitting in the lawyer's office overlooking the ocean was a sheer delight and worth the drive there and back every day. The building was situated close to a posh group of stores and restaurants where it was a treat to have lunch.

Having worked in law firms for several years in both Ohio and California, I learned a lot and was viewed as a very capable paralegal by both lawyers and my peers. Much of the knowledge I gained really hasn't left me to this day. But, more than knowledge, this experience helped frame much of my life.

At this point in history, your Dad was unexpectedly transferred to Kentucky. Andrew was young so I became a stay-at-home mom until our family stopped growing and finances were such that more income was needed.

My first job in Kentucky was made possible by Sam Thomas who happened to be working with Mike Warnke along with Rick Hackney. Sam was the Comptroller; he needed help with data entry using a computer. Rick went on the road with Mike and Rose as a security guard. When Sam learned I might be looking for work, he set up an interview and I was hired on the spot. The only problem was that I had never touched a computer and I was scared to death to do something wrong. It wasn't long until I caught on and was promoted to personal assistant to Mike. Over all, it was a tragic experience for me and for our family.

To understand more, Cornerstone Magazine did an article exposing the myth of Mike Warnke. If you search for "Jan Ross" in the article, you'll find that they interviewed me on several occasions while developing the story. Dot Green and a couple other close friends employed by the Warnkes at the time were also interviewed.

With frequent, high-pressure calls from the IRS about the misuse ministry's finances and demands for financial records deemed private and not to be made public by my employers, I couldn't continue to hold them at bay so I abruptly left one day. I had to make a moral decision to either defend my employer whose life lacked integrity, honesty and virtue, or take a stand and refuse to have anything more to do with them.

Call after call by IRS agents led me to finally walk out the door and head toward the unemployment office to made a claim. Of course, it was contested and a hearing was held in which Rose lied through her teeth to make me the one in the wrong ... my claim was denied. I can remember her looking at me in the eye and testifying how much they loved me and were hurt that I decided to leave! She had been anything but loving every time she demanded I give her a personal check and I refused because there was nothing in the bank. She tried to make sure I understand that the ministry money was hers to do as she wished. Estate auctions and antique stores were her passion but one that precipitated financial downfall each week when I had to beg Roxane to fund Rose's personal account to cover all the checks she had written while Mike was out of town. It was a mess and, although it was devastating to our family financially, it was worth it to live without the pressure to compromise what I knew was right over and over again!

Financial Desperatation

To keep our family afloat, I applied for every job I could find. I was soon hired by WDFB Radio in Alum Springs. It was run by the Drake family; I took care of payroll, income and receipts. The problem was that it wasn't much pay and only part time.

I happened to see an ad for an Office Administration instructor at Kentucky Business College in Danville. Although I had no degree and had only taken a few classes at Cleveland State (OH) and Golden West College (CA), I took a chance and applied. Again, it was only an evening job, but I was surprisingly hired.

To fill in the gaps for both income and time availability, I was contacted by the unemployment office about a job with Urban League as an instructor during the afternoons. After going through a massive number of tests, I was offered the job as an instructor. At this point, I was doing the office work at WDFB, heading directly toward the Urban League afterward, going home to make dinner for the family, then spending my evenings at Kentucky Business College.

I was teaching at the Urban League when one day the FBI walked through the door in front of my class and led me out to their vehicle. The ladies in my class were visibly shocked. I believe some were nervous because they had experienced run-ins with the law for various reasons and, for a moment, though they were the one in trouble.

I was questioned about the Warnke's activity while on the road and their involvement with a murder in Atlanta that led to concealing evidence that would incriminate the perpetrator. Thankfully, I didn't have a lot of details other than giving them the names of the three men I knew had been in Atlanta and returned boasting about receiving a gun from someone apparently connected with a murder. They had brought the gun back to Danville with them. That was close to the time I left so I wasn't sure about what happened; I just know it was nearly scandalous. You won't find that in any publication though I remember saying something to the reporters at Cornerstone. I'm sure the FBI played a role in silencing that topic.

The routine of working three jobs wore on me quickly. So, as you can imagine, I was excited (and relieved) to receive another call from the unemployment office about a full-time administrative assistant opportunity at Whirlpool in the Engineering Department. I enjoyed my time there immensely and soon found myself sought out for special projects, participating in high level sales meetings with Sears and other buyers. During my tenure, the Danville division of Whirlpool was sold to Matsushita (Panasonic) and taken over by the Japanese.

At the time, I was the administrative assistant to the Director of Engineering. Once the transition was made from Whirlpool to Matsushita, my boss (Carl Offutt) transferred to another division of Whirlpool and Steve (Seizo) Hayashi took the corner office. It was through this transition that my stress level became problematic; I'm sure it had to do with my physical problems as well.

A notable and not so pleasant experience was being called on my vacation day to meet with the President of the Danville Division of Matsushita. I was a bit perplexed because his interpreter called and said Mr. Yokoyama wanted to see me and that it was urgent. When I walked into his office, there were four people there: Mr. Yokoyama, two of the main personnel directors and Mick, the interpreter.

As I became more nervous with every step into that office, I was motioned to take a seat. Mr. Yokoyama began to speak in Japanese; it was interpreted for us by Mick. I don't remember the beginning of the conversation but it wasn't flattering in the least. The most I remember were the words translated to me in a way that I've never forgotten:

"I used to have great hopes for you. But, now, I look at you only see a stupid woman with no common sense."

I was devastated. I was embarrassed. I was speechless. I couldn't respond other than to say I was sorry I so disappointed him.

So much for my vacation days. So much for my future at Matsushita! My reputation had been ruined. I was under observation with every move I made. Every error. Every misjudgment. Every day of every week of every month of every year. How I stuck it out, I'll never know. Under great duress, I came back to my desk that next Monday morning scared to breathe. After so many years of being honored and blessed with great relationships and success on the job, a Japanese man who couldn't even speak my language ripped me to shreds and those who were supposed to represent the employees to their employer remained silent.

All in all, I worked there for close to ten years until Dr. Egan (rheumatologist) put me on long-term disability. To this day, I'm surprised they didn't terminate me but allowed me to remain on long-term disability until retirement age. My pension had been vested and I was awarded a good deal of money which we used to pay off several large bills. That was probably the only good thing that came out of the Matsushita experience. Even as I write this, my stomach is in knots. Those I thought trusted me and recognized my talent had turned on me; I had become a pariah in their sight.

When we moved to Grove City, I decided that teaching piano would bring in some extra income. It wasn't long until I had nearly 40 students. This provided a nice income as it covered our huge house payment and gave us a few extras to live on. I miss those days; I loved all of my students! Watching each one grow to love music was an added bonus you couldn't pin a pricetag on. Sadly, when we moved to Willard in 2006, I had to say goodbye. For a few years, two of my families paid me to travel back to Columbus and to Strongsville so I could continue on as their teacher. What an honor and privilege! That arrangement continued for a year or so until it got to be too difficult physically.

Until Pastor Steve Burkhalter called and offered me a job working for him at Potter's House-Mansfield, I hadn't received a paycheck. I was honored and blessed with the opportunity to help the church get established and grow through the years. As of the date of this writing, I'm slated to fully retire in September, 2024.

I've done well through the years with my career as a paralegal, administrative assistant, teacher, piano teacher and administrative pastor. It's been a wild ride at times but every job has played a part in making me who I am today. I'm thankful for the opportunity to use my God-given gifts and talents. I pray that God has been glorified and exalted through each experience.

Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six
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