Former employees of the Crane Co. may be eligible for some financial assistance through the Crane Fund.
The Crane Fund is a charitable trust established in 1914 by company founder Richard Teller Crane to assist employees no longer able to work as a result of ill health or after normal retirement age. Their widowed spouses and minor children can also be included, said Robert Culbertson, administrator of the Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based fund.
Crane Co., which manufactured hot water baseboard heating elements, closed its Duncansville plant on Aug. 31, 1974, with 225 employees affected.
The plant had opened in the late 1940s under the Jobs for Joes industrial development program. It was originally known as National Radiator Co., which was purchased by Crane in December 1959.
Joseph Wiedemer of Altoona, who retired from the company in 1971 after 21 years of service, recently learned about the Crane Fund through a mailing campaign.
"I had never heard about this before. There are a lot of people in this area who do not know about this. I think it is fabulous," Wiedemer said. "It may help a lot of people and provide them with help they never expected."
The Crane Fund in the United States and Canada currently helps about 800 people, Culbertson said. He said he doesn't know how many people in the Altoona area may be eligible but it may be as few as 15 to 20 people.
Not everyone is eligible to receive assistance, Culbertson said.
"The person has to have worked at least five years for Crane Co. or any of its subsidiary companies while owned by Crane. The employee has to be at least 57 or older unless disabled," Culbertson said. "We look at their income and assets. We have a formula to determine whether they are eligible for a sum of money or if they are not eligible. The payment has to approved by the board of directors."
Former Crane Co. employees can call 888-855-1100 to inquire about an application to see if they are eligible.
"We will be glad to talk to them to see if they are eligible," Culbertson said. "During these tough times, we are glad we are able to help a good number of people."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.