Kendall head custodian feted after 36 years

Posted 11 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Sue Cook – The hallways were packed to bursting as Marshall continued to collect presents. At the end of the walk, he had two large baskets and a cardboard box overflowing with cards, several plastic guitars and at least three beachballs signed by the students.

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

KENDALL – For 50 years – first as a student and then an employee – Kendall schools have been like a home to Bruce Marshall.

Today Marshall was greeted to a celebration from a grateful school community following 36 years of work for the district. Marshall is retiring, and Kendall Superintendent Julie Christensen says the school is sad to see him go.

“Bruce was a mainstay of the elementary school and Kendall community for over 50 years. He knows all the nooks and crannies,” she said. “If anybody needs anything, they’re stuck in a snow bank, need help with their locker or broke their glasses, he’ll do whatever he can to help. He’s been a great guy and we’ll miss him terribly.”

He began as a student at Kendall at 5 years old. When was 15, he started in the position of student helper, which is the title for a part-time custodian at the school. He moved on to full-time custodian in 1977 and became the head custodian in 1980.

Head custodian Bruce Marshall retired today from the Kendall Elementary School.

“I would like to still be able to stop in and see concerts now that I have more time and things like that,” Marshall said. “I would still like to see some of the kids.”

For Marshall’s last day today there was a cook-out style lunch celebration of hot dogs and hamburgers. The real surprise was at the end of the day.

Christensen had coordinated a surprise among elementary school staff and students for a final farewell to their head custodian. She called Marshall down to the principal’s office. Over the loudspeakers they played his favorite musician. To the soundtrack of Bruce Springsteen, Marshall walked the halls of the school followed by the administrators. In every hallway, students stood waiting outside their classrooms with cards, gifts and confetti.

Some students asked for signatures on items, as if they were meeting a celebrity. The sixth-graders sent him down their hall to the loud chanting of “Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!” The younger kids supplied their own chants of “Marshall! Marshall! Marshall!”

Teachers offered strong hugs and happy words. Even Channel 2 news out of Buffalo and Channel 13 from Rochester came out with cameras. It was a rock star sendoff that was both unexpected and touching for Marshall. In all, approximately 400 students congratulated Marshall on his retirement.

Marshall’s long-time girlfriend Karen Keck was there to watch Marshall walk the halls. They had already been talking about what it would be like when he retired.

“I think it’s going to be very exciting,” she said. “We’ve been counting down days since around 500-something. Now it’s finally here. I think it’s a good move for him and he’s really going to enjoy his time off.”

The youngest students were given glitter to toss for Marshall. At the end of the walk, the administrators joked that he wasn’t allowed to leave until every speck of glitter was off the floor.

“I don’t see him ever not being connected somehow to the Kendall schools,” Keck continued. “He’ll always find a way. Whether it’s participating in something like a community event or he does a lot of baking and he brings in his baked good, and I’m sure he’s going to continue with that.”

Marshall has been very happy with his employment at Kendall. He loves the school and believes in the staff and students continuing the positive direction.

“This has been a great place,” he said. “This school does everything it can for the students. I was glad to be able to be a part of creating an atmosphere that they were taken care of and this building being well-maintained. Just the caring that everybody shows from the superintendent, the secretaries, the cafeteria workers, the bus drivers, everybody just puts 110 percent into these kids to help them in every way they possibly can.”

Marshall has immediate retirement plans to follow Bruce Springsteen on tour for a while. His first concert stop will be in Pittsburgh later this month.

After following Springsteen’s tour for a little while, Marshall is already planning for more.

“I will be traveling to family,” he said. “Karen’s family is out in Colorado, a couple of sisters are in Florida. We have some grandkids in Reading, Pennsylvania, and Raleigh, North Carolina, that we’d like to see a little more of. We have a cottage at the lake. The main thing is enjoying the lake this summer and relaxing for my first summer off.”

‘There’s positive things that we do here 180 days a year. It’s been a great place and it always will be.’ – Bruce Marshall, who is retiring from the school

Starting Monday, Mark Kessler will move up to become the elementary school head custodian. Marshall expects Kessler to do a great job, but will be available in case there are questions.

“He has my number, and fortunately, I live one mile away,” Marshall said. “There are some little troubleshooting things that only I kind of know because I’ve been here 36 years, so I can point them out to him. There’s times you never know what’s going to hit you when you walk into this school.”

Marshall wanted to end his day with good words and encouragement before leaving to celebrate with friends over a pizza.

“There’s positive things that we do here 180 days a year. It’s been a great place and it always will be,” he said, picking glitter and confetti out of his hair.