TORRINGTON – When Leland Vetter signed on as welding instructor at Eastern Wyoming College in July 1980, he had a vision of what an ideal welding instruction building should look like.
“Roy (Butler) and Guido (Smith) told me they were building a welding shop on the hill, and when I drove up West C, I saw this brick building, and thought, ‘That is what a welding building should look like.’ But it wasn’t the new welding building. It was the new Community Hospital.
“But this new building looks a lot like it, doesn’t it,” he asked during a telephone interview last week.
Vetter came to Torrington as a new graduate from a welding program in North Dakota. It was July 7, 1980. He had been recruited for a new welding program at Eastern Wyoming College and was in town for an on-site interview.
Roy Butler, an instructor at EWC at the time, had gone to North Dakota looking for Vetter and returned to recommend the young man to EWC President Guido Smith. The interview went well, and over the next 34 years, Vetter directed the welding program’s expansion, until he retired in 2014.
“Roy found me,” Vetter said. “He came looking for me at the college in North Dakota, and came back and recommended me to Guido Smith, who was president of EWC. It seems like a dream.”
During his tenure, hundreds of welding students passed through the program, many of them winning national competitions, and a few participating in international challenges. Some of his students have returned as EWC welding program instructors, including Dean Gorsuch, a champion steer wrestler.
“This (dedication) is important to me, but it’s especially for the people and the students,” Vetter said. “It shows the importance of forward thinking, and where EWC will go in the next 50-100 years.”