It was Joe Terzyk's last day and it ended with fanfare.
Cars honked, teachers sang and a entire busload of children chanted "We love Joe, we love Joe" as they passed by him at Saliman Road and Sonoma Street.
Terzyk walked out in the street and held up his stop sign. In his other hand, he held the Mylar balloon wishing him good luck. He seemed completely nonplused by the fuss, but his words, "Beautiful. God Almighty," gave him away.
Terzyk is a crossing guard and a Joe-of-all-trades at the school.
"Joe is just so dedicated," said Al Seeliger Elementary School Principal Laurel Terry. "There is hardly a day that goes by that he's not here. We can always expect him to fill in for us in an emergency."
Terzyk planned to just walk into the sunset on his last day, but a number of teachers and staff at Seeliger Elementary School wanted to recognize him for his dedication. Since he came on board in the fall of 1998, he's brought brownies, cookies, Polish sandwiches, Christmas trees, a train set, a blow-up Santa and reindeers and flowers to the school.
Not to mention Baskin Robbins' banana splits on staff birthdays.
"He is just so willing to do anything around the school and we can always depend on him for us to be there for us," said office manager Barbara Spain. "He's just been an integral part of our school."
Terzyk's doctors have ordered him to give it a rest. That's a change of plans for Terzyk, who is busy being a crossing guard morning and afternoons, a playground aide during the day and an all around fun guy the rest of the time.
"He's the best (playground) duty I know," said fifth-grader Michaela Hoff. "I'm going to miss him a lot. He's so nice to us."
"He always lets us have fun," said fifth-grader Sam Blei. "And he lets us take off our shoes in the field."
Terzyk, a former U.S. Navy cook, had two grandchildren, Brittany and Jennifer DeRosa, attend Seeliger. They are now Carson High School students.
"Joe's just a love," said kindergarten teacher Dianne Tobey. "We're just going to miss him like crazy."
n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.