With nothing but wonderful memories, Ross Smithson is hanging up his bright orange vest after 20 years of being a crossing guard for École Dieppe.
"It’s been great, it’s just been super," Smithson, almost 86 years old, said about his time as a crossing guard at the K-6 school.
Elaine Giasson, principal at École Dieppe for four years, has known Smithson for 12 years. She said she’ll miss his cheerful smile.
"First thing in the morning, he would come in and say hello and just set the day on a positive note," Giasson said. "He always said that he got more out of his job than the kids did."
On Sept. 27, the staff at École Dieppe hosted a "come and go" at the school for Smithson. The community was invited to stop by to thank Smithson for his service and to wish him well.
Smithson is retiring to pay more attention to his health. The Charleswood resident said he is going to physiotherapy and his doctor once a week.
But while reminiscing about the past two decades of interacting with the staff and students at École Dieppe, Smithson is in high spirits. For him, it was the little things the kids did or said that made his job so enjoyable.
One of his favourite anecdotes happened during Christmas a while ago.
"I used to get little gifts, and I noticed a little girl crossing the street by herself!" Smithson said. "I thought, ‘what was wrong with her mother?’ She had a parcel for me. I bent down and she gave me a hug and said, ‘Mr. Ross, mommy says I can’t tell you they’re chocolates.’"
Smithson started working as a crossing guard in 1993. He and his wife had moved back to Winnipeg from Vancouver. Shortly after, his daughter called Smithson to let him know that his granddaughter’s school needed a crossing guard.
"He thought he’d do it for a while, not thinking he’d do it for (another) 19 years," Giasson said with a chuckle.
Smithson usually worked from 8:15 to 9 a.m. and again from 3:15 to 4 p.m. He loved his job so much he said he wouldn’t care if he wasn’t being paid.
"The thing is, at my age, to get out and do something. You know, be a little active in the community," Smithson said.
After 20 years, Smithson said the kids taught him a lot about living for the moment.
"They’re not worried about hydro bills or taxes. I’m going to miss it," Smithson said.