Custodian retires after 39 years at the same school

William Wilson vividly recalls his first day on the job.

“Our principal, Mr. Owens, kept walking back through the locker room for some reason,’” Wilson remembers. “Finally, he asked, ‘How would you like to be the head night custodian?’ I said ‘No.’ He kept coming back so I finally took the job and I’ve been here ever since.”

That was 39 years ago and he has remained as the head night custodian at First Colonial High School ever since.

Dec. 31 he is retiring, but not before making an indelible mark – literally.

Walk into the school’s cafeteria and you’ll see his image painted on the floor-to-ceiling mural on the wall.

“Mr. Wilson has been such an important part of this building that we wanted to include him in our mural,” said Principal Nancy Farrell.

At the school’s holiday gathering this week, he was not only one of the honorees, he was given a standing ovation, and staff quickly lined up to give him hugs.

“He’s just a great guy,” social studies teacher Debbie Lou Hague was happy to share. “I’ve been here for 24 years now and he’s so helpful. He’s interested in students and teachers and also the other employees here. He’s just a very positive person. I’ve never seen him sad or mad or upset, ever.”

Art teacher and basketball coach Mark Butts agrees.

“I’ve known Mr. Wilson because we’re from the same neighborhood so I’ve basically known him all my life,” Butts shared. “He is one of the nicest men you’ll ever get to know. Has not changed one bit.”

Fellow custodian Cora Granby-Parker, who has worked with Wilson for three-and-a-half years, echoed that sentiment.

“He knows the ropes, is fast and knows how to clean the school in an efficient way.”

Wilson, who grew up in Virginia Beach and graduated from Kempsville High School, stated that although he looks forward to relaxing, he’ll not soon forget First Colonial.

“I’m going to miss all of them here,” he said. “It’s a nice place to work and people always treated me nice.”

Watch the Compass Keeper video featuring Mr. Wilson.

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