Redwood Elementary School students and staff honored retiring custodian Ray Nichols with a “clap- out” as he left the building for the last time March 31. Nichols had been with the district for 21 years, first as a custodian at Learwood Middle School before moving to Redwood, where he spent most of his time with the district.
Nichols’ wife, Becky, who retired as head cook at Learwood, first suggested her husband apply to work in the schools. Nichols learned the ropes from custodian Mark Brandt, who will take over the custodial duties at Redwood.
“I am proud of this school,” said Nichols. “I am going to miss the teachers, staff and the kids. I grew up with many of these teachers. The staff and I get along so well. The students have always been so kind to me. They send me notes letting me know how thankful they are for what I do. They really appreciate me and I appreciate them for always being so nice to me. If you are nice to people and treat them well, they will do the same for you.”
Working as a custodian was Nichols’ second career. He worked for 30 years making milk cartons for a North Olmsted company.
“Ray is truly a ray of sunshine at Redwood each day, not only for the staff, but for the students,” said Redwood Principal Lindsey Holeman. “He is always willing to lend a helping hand to anyone and has such a vast knowledge of all of the mechanical components within the building. Not only is he hardworking, but he also has an incredible sense of humor. It has been a true blessing getting to know him and he will be sorely missed both at Redwood and within the district.”
Nichols turned 70 March 28. He considers his retirement a “birthday present” to himself. His plans include traveling to see family in Houston, working on a few home repair projects, as well as his cars, and also having more time to go bowling.
The school celebrated Nichols’ retirement with a variety of activities including a staff bowling night; handmade cards for his 70th birthday; and celebrating “Ray Day” with all students and staff encouraged to wear white T-shirts and jeans or special Chevrolet car shirts the staff purchased.