April 1 was no Fool’s Day for Gardnerville Ranchos resident Al Wulf; that day marked the final “favorite day” of Wulf’s 32-year career with the Douglas County School District and the beginning of a retirement rich with fun and family.
Wulf, a former diesel mechanic, found himself without work during the economic downturn of the early ’80s. He saw a custodian opportunity with the district as “a job and a paycheck,” he said. “It turned into so much more. It turned into my life.”
He first worked at Douglas High, but soon accepted the head custodian position at Gardnerville Elementary. Six years later, he went to Meneley Elementary, where he remained as head custodian for 26 years.
“I never thought I’d be a janitor,” Wulf said. “But it turned out to be the perfect job for me. Every day was my favorite day; you never knew what would happen next. There was no time to sit still. Quiet in the morning always made me nervous; I knew that afternoon would be a busy one.”
Wulf’s impact extended far beyond the care, cleaning and maintenance of school facilities; he was a vital member of a whole team that supports the education of the students who attend Meneley Elementary. “I loved it when former students would visit,” he said. “Kids would come back years later and remember things I’d said, things we talked about. I got to influence a lot of lives, actually.”
The decision to retire didn’t come easy. “Next to my wife and grandson, this job was the best thing that ever happened to me.” It was a request from his grandson that ultimately led to putting in his notice.
“I listened to an eight year old,” Wulf laughed. “He wanted me to quit so I could spend more time with him. We’re bringing him here for a two-week visit this summer, going to spoil him rotten and send him home,” he said with a grandfatherly glint in his eye.
“I thought I’d miss it more, but that hasn’t happened yet. It’s amazing how fast the time goes by, how busy I am.” Wulf’s days are spent catching up on household tasks, gardening, camping, fishing, and “being a grandpa.” He didn’t retire his work ethic, though: he maintains to-do lists and works through the week to ensure chores are complete. This keeps weekends free and open to spend time with Sue, his wife of 38 years.
Wulf maintains a strong connection with his Meneley family. “You can’t spend that much time somewhere and not feel a part of it,” he said. He plans to return to the school to volunteer and possibly substitute. “I love the kids, I love the people. I love (Meneley Principal) Becky Rugger; you always know where you stand with her. She’s all about the kids and she’s just great.”
Wulf is excited by the possibilities ahead and making the most of the freedom afforded him through retirement. “So far, so good,” he smiled. “I’ve managed to stay out of trouble pretty well.”
The Tahoe Douglas Elks Lodge hosts a mini-flea market on Saturday, May 17 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. in the Lodge parking lot.
Recent donations to the sale include household items, clothing and books.
The Lodge is located at 1227 Kimmerling Road in the Gardnerville Ranchos. For more information, call 775-265-4523.
Amy Roby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.