By: Jeevan Subbiah
Amidst the pillars that support the iconic and historic Anchor Brewing Company, there is a rock. The rock is Linda Rowe, Director of Finance and Administration. “She is the business rock that we built the brewery upon,” stated Fritz Maytag during Linda’s recent all-brewery celebration luncheon. “I didn’t make a business decision without asking her first,” he added.
Fritz praised Linda’s hard work as well as the efforts of other original Anchor employees, including Gordon MacDermott and Mark Carpenter.
On July 22, Linda celebrated her 40th anniversary at Anchor, still smiling as if she knows something everyone else does not. In honor of the occasion, owners Keith Greggor and Tony Folio dedicated all remaining 2014 Anchor Steam Beer bottle caps with the underside inscription, “Raise Your Anchor to Linda – 40 Years at Anchor,” and the crown inscription, “LR-40.” Only four people have had their initials on the crown before: Gordon, Mark, Chris Solomon, and Linda. Linda is the first to have her name on the bottle cap.
“40 years of work anywhere doing anything is an incredible accomplishment,” said Anchor’s Historian Dave Burkhart. “People should raise an Anchor in celebration for anyone who has given that amount of service to an organization!”
Beer flows freely at Anchor, and praise for Linda flowed with equal enthusiasm at the anniversary luncheon. A parade of Anchor heavyweights commended Linda’s work ethic and thanked her steadfast efforts. The only sputter in the slough of speeches was Linda’s own humble remarks, which lasted maybe 20 seconds. Upon completion, her husband said, “That’s all you are going to say?”
Ever the deflector of praise, seeking attention was never Linda’s style. Her father had given her simple advice, “do the best job you can every day,” and she followed it. She put her passion into her work, which withstood the scrutiny and praise of four decades.
Many told stories of careers launched and nurtured by Linda. Debora Pinkas, now a lawyer, mentioned how she had called the brewery with no idea of what job she might do. When Linda answered the phone, Debora panicked and said, “Um… I want to be a tour guide,” to which Linda calmly replied, “Great timing, we actually need a tour guide.” With emotion, Debora said, “Linda was the first person to actually take me seriously,” noting how that had changed her life.
Yet even behind these examples of Linda’s impact lay silent backstories of all that Linda had done for Anchor. Back at the former 8th and Bryant brewery location, there were no formal tours. Linda’s desk happened to be near the brewery entry, and whenever someone entered the brewery asking for a tour, Linda would stop her work and selflessly guide the guests around.
Linda was originally drawn to San Francisco from her home in Connecticut by the lure of the hippy movement in the 1960’s and 70’s. Surprisingly, she felt that “the culture wasn’t that different from what was happening in Boston back then. It was just the hippy movement.” She figured she would stay in San Francisco “about six months,” but then fate stepped in. Amidst many interviews that a placement agency had scheduled, most which she found uninteresting, one stood out: “A bookkeeper position at a brewery… it sounded very interesting,” said Linda.
Linda interviewed with Fritz and was hired in 1974 as the 8th employee. “He didn’t say the role would grow,” noted Linda, “But over time, as we were expanding, many needs came up including finance, administration and human resources. Fritz asked, ‘What direction do you want to go in?’ He really was a very, very interesting man… and a genius.” She added that, “over the years Anchor had a constant stream of people asking advice on how to open a brewery,” and that, “Fritz gave advice freely to all of them.”
Linda also praised the efforts of the current Anchor ownership. “Change… that is what is going to happen… and that is what had to happen at Anchor.“
Asked what stood out to her over all the years, Linda swiftly answered, “Mostly the people… past and present. It was and still is a really, really good group of people. Why go to work with people you don’t like? It just makes for a longer day.”
Last Friday as I left work and walked by the Accounting and Finance offices, I noticed Linda staying late as always. Her unassuming desk was filled with decades of faithful work haphazardly scattered about. At the corner of her desk sat a plain plastic cup, filled to the brim with inscribed Steam bottle caps. Small trophies symbolizing a giant accomplishment.