Less than a month after retiring on his 100th birthday, longtime Los Angeles County transit employee Arthur Winston died in his sleep, his family said Friday.
The man co-workers celebrated as Mr. Reliable had recently been admitted to a hospital for exhaustion and dehydration but returned to his home April 6. He died Thursday evening.
To his former colleagues at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Winston was more than a model employee known for his energy, punctuality and longevity. He was a legend.
Winston missed one day of work in over 70 years, and that was to attend his wife's funeral in 1988. In 1996, he received an "Employee of the Century" citation from President Bill Clinton.
"He leaves behind a great legacy," said his grandniece Yvette Chappell-Ingram.
Winston worked at the MTA and its predecessor agencies for 76 years. For decades, Winston reported to work at a bus yard at the crack of dawn to supervise a crew of workers as they cleaned and refueled the region's bus fleet.
"Arthur Winston's life of service will stand as an unparalleled example of dedication to principles, commitment to excellence and pride in the American work ethic," said John Catoe, the MTA's deputy chief executive officer.
Winston was born in Oklahoma and said he began picking cotton at age 10. His family headed west when droughts and storms ruined several crop seasons, and in 1924 he found work with the Pacific Electric Railway Co., a forerunner of the MTA.
He left the company in 1928, returned six years later and stayed until his retirement last month.
In an interview last month, Winston credited his father for teaching him a strong work ethic.
"My dad got us out of bed whether it was raining or snowing. We got up at 6 o'clock, no matter what," he said.
At age 99, Winston was responsible for a crew of 11 employees who cleaned, maintained and refueled Metro buses.
When he retired last month, Winston was offered a new job as an honorary spokesman for the 99 Cents Only stores.
"I'll be on the move. I'm not going to sit and mope in the house," he said at the time.