On Nov. 29, 1965, Claire Bauman set off for her first day as a crossing guard at Horace Mann Elementary School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
“I said I’ll give you a week, and here I am 57 years later,” she told WTXF-TV in nearby Philadelphia.
June 21 was her last day on the job, and the 94-year-old has certainly earned her retirement.
But the community had a celebration in the works to honor the woman so many of them had encountered as they made their way to school. Even the local police department got in on the festivities.
“My mother Claire Bauman is retiring as a Crossing guard at Horace Mann Elementary School in Cherry Hill NJ,” Mary Bauman Soards posted on Facebook ahead of the big retirement party. “She is the Queen of Walt Whitman Blvd. For 57 years everyday no matter what the weather, she was always on duty protecting the children.
“She still wears her uniform every day, she has a large metal stop sign. She is a legend. It’s a feel good heart-warming story. There are many great stories to be told of happenings from over the years. God knows we need all the up positive stories too lift us up rather than all the stuff we are dealing with in today’s times. Fifty-seven years at the same school and member at the local swim club for fifty-seven years.
“People are asking what’s happening to celebrate her journey. Already a past student of 55 years ago wants to drive her in his limousine. He surprised her when she celebrated 50 years and the oldest employee of Cherry Hill Police.
“Sorry it is last minute, but she surprised us a few weeks ago with her decision to retire. She wants to leave on her own 2 feet. She is a feisty 94-year-old that thinks she is 80.”
So on June 16, everyone turned up to celebrate Bauman and her tireless service.
“We love her for caring for our kids, giving service to our community and showing up every day,” said John J. Cafagna, principal of Horace Mann Elementary School.
“You are unique,” he added during a speech to recognize the nonagenarian. “You are special. You will forever be ingrained in our lives at Cherry Hill.”
“We would like to congratulate Crossing Guard Ms. Claire Bauman on her retirement after 57 years of service!” the Cherry Hill Police Department posted on Facebook. “Ms. Bauman was hired as a Crossing Guard with the CHPD in 1965, and has been providing safe passage to three generations of Horace Mann Elementary students since.
“Congratulations Ms. Bauman, and enjoy your well deserved retirement!”
According to Bauman, she wasn’t the only one giving — she got a lot from the students with whom she interacted.
“The kids got me through a lot of things in my life,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I would have been able to.”
And the cheeky 94-year-old made a promise: “I’ll be back.”
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