BARTONVILLE, Ill.– May 23 is a special day for a Bartonville man who serves his community in an honorable way by making sure children make it to and from school safely. The Village of Bartonville has named May 23, Gerald Beckette Day.
Thursday morning sirens rang as Gerald Beckette was paraded through town. Beckette served the Village of Bartonville for 67 years.
“Watch over the kids,“ said Gerald Beckette. “Keep them from getting ran over and doing the Lord’s work. God’s work.“
Before hanging up his bright green vest in retirement, Beckette started his crossing guard endeavor in 1952 for Oak Grove Schools.
“He is the epitome of kindness,“ said Dr. Loren Baele, superintendent of Oak Grove. “He is compassionate, caring, and he is a person that has served without getting anything back.“
Every Monday through Friday, morning and afternoon, he helped students across the intersection of Pfeiffer and Lafayette where a plaque hangs honoring his years of service. The Village said the 85-year-old continues to spread inspiration and happiness for the kids.
“Everybody in Bartonville embraces Gerald and knows him,“ said the superintendent.
“He walked my son across the street all his years at Oak Grove East, and he walked my daughter across the street all her years at Oak Grove East,“ said Kim Cravens. “He also walked myself.“
Community members remembering times he was their pillar of safety and security.
“It’s a blessing,“ said Kyle Maricle. “He was always one of my favorite parts about leaving school.“
“He deserves it,“ said Cravens. “I’ve never seen someone so devoted to their job as Gerald has been. He’s a good person, he really is, and he cared so much about each one of the kids.“
Thursday night, at the eighth grade graduation, Dr. Baele announced a new award. The “Gerald Beckette Service Award“ will be given to an eighth grader who shows kindness, caring and service to the community.