Roleau leaving ARRSD facilities dept. after 36 years

  • Bob Roleau, director of facilities/transportation for the Athol Royalston Regional School District, is retiring after 36 years on the job. His last day is Friday, Feb. 28. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/GREG VINE

For Athol Daily News
Published: 2/25/2020 10:13:00 PM
Modified: 2/26/2020 4:56:23 AM

ATHOL – In March 1984, Peter Ueberroth was elected commissioner of Major League Baseball, Tim Witherspoon beat Greg Page for the heavyweight boxing title, Georgetown beat Houston to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship, the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis, and Bob Roleau went to work for the Athol Royalston Regional School District.

“I was working down at UTD (United Twist Drill), that was back in March of ’84,” Roleau told the Athol Daily News, “and Paul Savoy stopped in at the picket line. He was looking for someone to sweep classrooms at the high school. It was one of those days when it was rainy and drizzly and I said, ‘That sounds much better than doing this.’ We’d been doing that since September. Somehow, I knew I wasn’t going back; I wasn’t going to be sitting in a factory running machines anymore.”

“I worked at the high school for a couple of weeks. Then, they had me down at Riverbend working for a couple of weeks. I was filling in here and there. Then, in May, they hired me as the custodian at Riverbend.”

Now, after 36 years — the last 17 as director of facilities/transportation — Roleau is calling it a career. His last day on the job is Friday, Feb. 28.

Of the various schools that have closed their doors over the years, Roleau said one holds a special place in his memories.

“In ’85, I was the head custodian – well, the only custodian – at Silver Lake School,” he said, “and I was there until 2002. That was like ‘my’ school. I had been shadowing with the different maintenance director up until that time. I was just one of those guys that, every time they needed something, I was always there.

“There was an opening for the maintenance director,” he continued. “Dana Parker was the superintendent at the time — one of the 17 that I went through. He brought me into the central office and sat me down at said, ‘Whaddaya think?’ So, I’ve been director of facilities since 2003.”

Roleau said he had been thinking of retiring for some time, but he first wanted to see the completion of one more project.

“I thought about it, but I said I want to see through that project at the high school, with the roof and the boilers,” he said. “Now, that’s done. There are other things coming up, but you have to draw the line somewhere.”

When asked what his plans were for retirement, Roleau responded, “What if I told you I have none? The first couple of weeks it’s going to be like I’m on vacation, then after that we’ll see.”

Roleau couldn’t pick out any individual when asked who he’ll miss the most.

“I’ll miss them all,” he said. “I get around the district twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I deliver stuff and I do the interoffice mail, too. So, I’m in with the principals, I’m in with the secretaries, and they’re all wonderful people — they really are. And it’s the same with central office. There’s a real support staff there, too. The people in the office are always taking good care of me.”

At the most recent meeting of the Athol Royalston Regional School Committee, Roleau was presented with a plaque by Superintendent Darcy Fernandes honoring him for his 36 years of service to the district.

“Every day is an adventure,” said Roleau of the position he is about to vacate. “I’ll plan my day out at two o’clock in the morning. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and think about all this stuff to do the next day. Then by six or seven o’clock in the morning, there’s something else thrown your way. I’m really going to miss that part of the job.”

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