When it comes to adoration, Daniels cleans up

When it comes to adoration, Daniels cleans up

by Kristy Locklin
Staff Writer
February 28, 2007



When custodian Harry Daniels walked into work on Monday morning he was greeted by an army of ... himself.


Hundreds of Hance Elementary students (and a few teachers) celebrated "Harry Day" by dressing up as the popular employee, who has been keeping the Pine-Richland School District clean for 30 years.

Donning fake mustaches, glasses, green polo shirts and khaki pants, the kids paraded through the sparkling hallways bearing cards, goodies and gifts.

"This is family," Daniels said, surrounded by a passel of miniature Harrys.

After short stints as a railroad box car cutter and construction worker, Daniels began his custodial career at Wexford Elementary. He's been at Hance for 17 years, making sure the floors are shining, the machinery is functioning, the cafeteria is spotless and the parking lot is plowed.

The guest of honor was invited to spend the day lounging in the school's foyer, where a quilt and pillow were laid out for him.

Never one to nap on the job, Daniels went about his normal routine, buffing the floors and wiping tiny handprints from the windows. Occasionally, students will lend a hand after lunch by picking up a broom and dust pan. "Harry's Helpers" are rewarded with prizes at the end of each year.

The one-man cleaning crew is usually at work before sunrise and doesn't put down his mop until the final school bell rings. It's a tough job -- especially since Hance was expanded to twice its original size in 2001 -- but Daniels doesn't let the back-breaking labor wear on his sunny disposition.

He greets everyone with a handshake and a smile.

Even when kids move on to the higher grades and beyond, they come back to Hance to catch up with Daniels, who has served as an usher in the weddings of several former students. During his weekend camping trips, he's often accompanied by his wife, Barbara, his own six children, a grandson and a handful of Pine-Richland graduates now in their 40s.

After three decades, Daniels still enjoys his job.

"I'm not retiring," he said over the school's intercom system.

"I'm going to give it a couple more years because I like you all so much."