Pat Stadelman recently found a blog post we’d written in 2010 on JoeWelder.com about her son Billy, “Welding Shop a Wish Come True.” Billy had been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor and was granted a welding shop by the Make A Wish Foundation. Sadly Pat reported that Billy passed away in October 2011—but not before inspiring his 19-year-old sister Lora, who has now taken up the torch in Wellsville, New York.
Lora has been welding for about a year and took her first welding class last fall at Broome Tioga Boces in Binghamton and she’ll start classes at Alfred State College this fall. “We always had this plan, that we would start a welding business together,” Lora says, adding that Billy would do the welding and she would do the business end.
For Lora, losing Billy has been the most difficult thing she’s ever had to deal with, but she decided that she would go ahead with their plan, with a few changes. When she attended welding classes with the same teachers her brother had at Boces and discovered she really likes welding. Most of her time so far has been with the Stick welding process, “but I really like the TIG process more,” she says.
She’s not sure yet what kind of welding jobs she’ll hold in the future, but her ultimate goal is to own her own weld shop, to continue the dream she and her brother had.
Although Lora is excited to learn everything she can about welding, she’s most eager to learn more about TIG welding aluminum. “I really enjoy working with aluminum and I love how beautifully the beads turn out.”
When I asked if she’s encountered any discrimination as a woman she’s quick to respond that she has not received any discouraging words, that everyone has been very nice to her and if she has a question, even a stupid question, her teachers and classmates have always answered it respectfully. “I think they can see how much I want to learn and they have respect for me as a woman entering into a male dominated field.”
Lora says she would tell her 15 year old self, “Life is going to get very hard and take every chance you can get to hug your brother. And to live without regret because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Life does not always turn out like you hope.” Good advice for anyone, really.
For other young women interested in welding, Lora says “Go for it! Welding is a ton of fun!” Lora would also say that it’s important to never let the guys walk all over you, that you have to be able to get along with the guys you are working with. And most importantly—don’t take life too seriously, no one gets out alive. And repeating advice from her brother Billy, she adds that if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life.
Finally she reminds us, “A woman can do anything a man can do, and should never believe otherwise.”
I’m so glad Lora and Billy’s mom reached out to us, and shared the continuation of their story with us. And to the entire Stadelman family our heartfelt condolences…