Coincidental combinations: When the name fits the job

Credit: Adam Worthington/ KTVB

Coincidental combinations: When the name fits the job

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by Doug Petcash

Bio | Email | Follow: @DougPetcashKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 10:03 PM

BOISE -- Way back in history, people took their last names from their professions. Miller, Mason, Sailor, Baker, Tanner, Taylor to name a few. Nowadays that just doesn't happen. Still, some people do end up in jobs that perfectly fit their names. It's not real common, but we found a few of these coincidental combinations.

Pediatric Charge Nurse
   
On the fourth floor of St. Luke's Children's hospital in Boise you'll find nurse Ellie G. making the rounds. "The nicest part about babies and kids is if they have a mess, you can pick them up with one hand and clean it up with the other one," said Ellie G.

The G. on her name tag stands for Gerber. Yes, the baby nurse's name really is Ellie Gerber. "I hear it all the time," she said laughing.

But there is no connection at all to the baby food maker. "I get asked if I'm related to the Gerber Company, and sadly I'm not," said Gerber.

Happily, she is the wife of her Mr. Gerber. However, she was a nurse first, and swears she didn't marry him for his name. "I didn't, but I do joke that I'm glad his name wasn't Huggies or Pampers. I am grateful for that," said Gerber. 

Retired Wildlife Biologist

Bruce Haak retired in 2011 after 24 years with the Idaho Fish and Game Department. "My family's interest in hunting and fishing and being in the outdoors a lot really stimulated my interest in wild things," said Haak.

Especially birds of prey. You see, Bruce Haak (pronounced hawk) is an expert on hawks and falcons and other raptors. He even wrote two books.

"It's sparked a number of rather curious nicknames like Bruce Buzzard," said Haak. 

Haak says the fact that his name matches his career is just a coincidence, but a happy coincidence. "I think there is just something captivating about the spirit of an animal or a group of animals that's just so independent," said Haak. 

DEQ Air Quality Manager

Hawks didn't have the best air to fly around in this summer. Blame the fires.

"We did have a busy summer with all the wildfires," said Dave Luft with the Department of Environmental Quality.

Luft is the air quality manager for the Boise region of the DEQ. Luft means air in German. "I always find it interesting when people catch it," said Luft. 

And it's not the first time in his career that his name has matched his job. The first time was when he worked in environmental clean-up, and it was a less fortunate coincidence. "L.U.F.T., the acronym, was used for Leaking Underground Fuel Tanks," said Luft.

He'll take the current coincidence, and the lighthearted ribbing that might come with it now that the cat's even farther out of the bag.

"I expect most of the stuff I'll hear about will be from co-workers razzing me," said Luft with a smile on his face. 

Zamzows Greenhouse Manager

"Love my citrus; oranges and limes and lemons," said the greenhouse manager at the Zamzows lawn, garden and pet supply store in Eagle.

In fact, she loves most plants and making sure her customers get the right ones. "My favorite thing is helping people figure out what kind of plants they want, what's going to work for them."

And those customers often catch her name. It's Amber Garden. "A lot," Garden said. "They always are wondering if I made it up or whatever."

Amber Garden doesn't look at her name/job match as a coincidence, more like serendipity. "I just got lucky," said Garden. "And it's just sort of meant to be that I'm doing this and I will absolutely always continue gardening."  

Idaho Lottery Spokesman
   
The spokesman for the Idaho Lottery makes his living crafting words. His ancestors were craftsmen too. "My family were workers. In the 19th century we built wagons in Missouri." 

Their nose to the grindstone type of work ethic was passed down to him through the generations. It's actually built into his name:  David Workman.

"When you've got a name like Workman you actually have to go out and work harder than everybody else because you kind of have to live up to that billing," said Workman.

That would go for any job he ever had. And that's just fine with him. 

"At the end of the day, there's nothing like doing a really good day's job," said Workman.

Gastroenterologist

Meanwhile, back at St. Luke's we met pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Tyler Burpee. Burpee is a name that may have been a little hard to stomach as a kid. "It made for an interesting childhood a little bit in terms of getting teased," said Dr. Burpee.

He treats kids with all kinds of stomach issues such as abdominal pain, constipation, acid reflux and diarrhea. He says his name didn't lead him into this specialty, but it does work in his favor with his young patients.

"They'll tease me. They'll ask if I can burp the alphabet, if I'm gassy," said Dr. Burpee. "It's a good icebreaker. Kids love it which makes it easier for us to talk about this sort of stuff."

Talking about their problems and helping him find a cure means his patients can get better faster. That is definitely something he can stomach.  

The Definition

There is an official term for this -- aptronym.

The definition for the word aptronym is:  a name that fits a person's nature or occupation.

If you know someone like this, email Doug at dpetcash@ktvb.com and let him know.  We just might do more stories on aptronyms in the future. 
 

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