Ashwaubenon crossing guards reflect on years on the beat
By Ben Rodgers
ASHWAUBENON – Over the years Marty Beno has spent thousands of hours helping children get to and from school safely.
Beno recently retired as a crossing guard for the Ashwaubenon School District at the age of 83, after 11 years of service.
“There’s people out there that did it a lot longer than me but I enjoyed every minute of it,” Beno said. “If I wouldn’t have fallen and hurt myself I’d still be out there.”
Beno recently suffered a severe hip injury after a fall at home. The hardest part was leaving behind his crossing at Willard Drive and San Luis Place.
“What I liked about it were the kids,” Beno said. “Everybody always says ‘I have the best kids,’ but I really had the best kids.”
After his second retirement as a crossing guard, the first came as a welder, Beno received a gift bag overflowing with wishes for a speedy recovery and happy retirement from his kids.
“I don’t want to go out there not healthy and fall,” Beno said. “I figured the kids are more important than me.”
One thing Beno doesn’t miss is the cold weather.
Crossing guards are usually bundled up, but at his intersection there was no time for any hot drinks to keep warm.
“You don’t have time to drink it. You got the stop sign in one hand and your moving the kids in the other,” Beno said. “But a lot of parents would stop by with a cup of coffee and all that. The parents were always good.”
For his efforts Beno was awarded Crossing Guard of the Year in 2016.
Beno’s wife Donna also is a crossing guard for the district, having put in 5 1/2 years herself.
When Gary Ness, then school resource officer approached her about being a guard there was a little hesitation.
“I don’t know if I really wanted to because I didn’t retire, I went from one job to the next, but I’m used to working with kids,” Donna said.
She previously spent 30 years in food service with the district.
But with a little encouragement from Marty and Officer Ness, the decision was easy.
Plus her corner at Ridge Road and Willard Drive is less busy than her husband’s old spot.
“I’m still on a bad corner but when the traffic is fast I can sneak back into my car and warm up,” Donna said.
Stan Hanson, the 2017 Crossing Guard of the Year said weather can be a downside.
“Most of the the time it’s a very nice job when the weather is nice, but sometimes in January and February it gets pretty bad, I suppose it goes with the territory,” Hanson said.
The former TV and photocopier repair man enjoys his job as a crossing guard because it keeps him active.
“I’m in pretty good health so I don’t see any reason why I would get out of it,” Hanson said. “As long as I’m healthy enough to do it, I’m going to keep doing it.”
Jan. 22 through 26, has been proclaimed Wisconsin Adult School Crossing Guard Recognition Week.
They are the eyes and ears for parents, watching out for other people’s children, as if they were their own.
So next time you walk your child to school, or drop them off at the crosswalk, be sure to thank the crossing guard who looks after your child.
It is sometimes a thankless job, but rain or shine, they are always there.