“Retire… For what? You retire you just sit around the house and get fat.”
Those are words of wisdom from Mr. Willie, the beloved crossing guard at Summerfield Crossings Elementary.
Mr. Willie is 90 years old.
“Mr. Willie has been here since 2007, when the school opened,” said Principal Brian Harvey. “He has had perfect attendance for the most part the entire time he’s been here. He’s out there in any weather. Whether it’s a partial hurricane, whether it’s 120 degrees, he comes out every day with a smile.”
Mr. Willie did retire from a different job in 1993. But he got bored. “I got tired of sitting around doing nothing,” said Mr. Willie. “I wanted something extra to do. I got tired of fishing so I figured I’d get me a part time job. A friend of mine said, well, go be a crossing guard. I said okay.”
And that’s what he’s been doing for the past 13 years at Summerfield Crossings Elementary. He’s become part of the school family. More than that, he’s become an icon in the community.
“He just an integral part of our staff. He’s just as important as the principal,” said Kelly Halley, Secretary at Summerfield Crossings. “He just loves these kids and they love him. If it wasn’t for him, I’m not sure if the kids would start off their day as happy as they do because he’s just so sweet.”
Many kids who have moved on to high school and beyond come back and say hi to Mr. Willie when they can. He says he appreciates that they remember him. And rarely does a day pass when a member of the community doesn’t drop off some sweet treat for Mr. Willie to take home and enjoy.
“There are many reasons why Mr. Willie is so special to Summerfield Crossings Elementary,” said Principal Harvey. “I think the most important piece is he keeps our students safe. His number one priority is ensuring that our kids get here safely. He makes sure they enter campus with a smile on their face and leave campus with a smile on their face. You could have had a rough morning at home, but when you see Mr. Willie in the morning it changes that. He’s a staple to our community and an absolutely amazing human being.”
We want to thank the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office for their partnership in providing our schools with quality crossing guards like Mr. Willie.
Oh yeah, Mr. Willie turns 91 years old on Saturday, October 10th!