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Springdale school custodian Fanny Wellman retires after 32 years

Fanny Wellman was custodian at a high school in Springdale for 32 years. The school community said goodbye and thank you to her during the year-end ceremony at Indian River High last week.
Fanny Wellman was custodian at a high school in Springdale for 32 years. The school community said goodbye and thank you to her during the year-end ceremony at Indian River High last week.

SPRINGDALE, NL — Fanny.  

That’s all anybody needs to say in Springdale, and most everybody knows exactly whom they are talking about.

Fanny has been a custodian at the high school in Springdale — previously Grant Collegiate and now Indian River High — for 32 years. She is retiring this year, and it was a heartfelt farewell at the school last week.

She received a few gifts and many kind words from students and staff, distributed to her during the year-end ceremony Thursday. There was more Friday as staff officially said goodbye to her the day after students dismissed for the summer.

“I could hardly speak,” she said. “I can’t believe I am going … it is going to be hard knowing I am not going to be back here next year.”

Shocking to some, at the year-end ceremony, Fanny thanked everybody for showing her their appreciation. She had a few kind words to share with everybody before quietly taking her place in the background again.

Fanny started what she thought was a temporary job at Grant Collegiate in 1985, but it wasn’t until this year her contract was not renewed.

“I enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. “Many teachers came and went, I enjoyed every one of them. We always got along. I never had a problem with any staff member, student or anybody.”

If Fanny was not known through her involvement in school, people knew her from the church community.

The school was clean as a whistle, according to assistant principal Ruth Cameron, but Fanny meant so much more to the school community than what a mop could provide.

“She’s a fixture,” Cameron said. “She took on far more than the role of just being a custodian. She looked out for the kids and she was concerned about their wellbeing.”

Fanny and her husband, Roy, are also well known for their acceptance of young people in the community, especially if they were friends of their son. It was nothing to see up to or more than 50 of their son’s friends at their home over the years.

She was good at her job too.

“She kept the place as clean as a whistle, and is a really good friend,” Cameron said. “More than that, it is the way Fanny makes you feel — towards students and the staff here.

“If you are having a bad day and you hear Fanny rolling through the hallways singing a hymn, somehow it just made it OK.”

Like Fanny was for the students, teachers and staff; staff were there for Fanny. An open door policy by the school psychologist and principal Brian Hancock helped her through some trying times of her own over the years, she said.

Despite 32 years on the job, Fanny wasn’t ready to hang up her mop and bucket. She was disappointed her contract was not renewed, but she won’t be drafting up any resumes for a replacement job. It was the love of her work and the relationships with the school community that kept her coming back everyday with a smile on her face and a hymn on her breath.

She says she is no expert knitter or quilter, but plans to spend part of her free time doing those things.

Indian River High better keep their door open for visits from Fanny. She may come singing a hymn with that smile on her face, and the school better be clean.

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