Robinson Elementary said goodbye to one of its most beloved and dependable employees during a retirement party held Wednesday, Nov. 13.
Buddy Lee, head of maintenance at Robinson Elementary (RES) sat in a rocking chair in the Charles B. Finley Media Center surrounded by coworkers many of them were children at Robinson when he started working with the school.
Lee said he enjoyed his time working for the school so much that he forgot exactly how long he had been there.
Twenty-four, 25 years, something like that, he said. It might be a little under or a little over.
But one thing hes sure of is his love for the staff and children.
Ive enjoyed working with the school system all these years and everybodys been very nice to me. And I really, really will miss yall and the kids.
The staff of RES feels the same for their best buddy and showed their appreciation by presenting him with a gift.
Lee opened the gift, and held up a beautiful watch. He turned the watch over and tears filled his eyes as he read aloud the words inscribed on the back.
RES loves you, 11/13/13.
A misty-eyed Buddy began explaining how he was led to work for Robinson.
I put in three applications at different places, and all three places called me the same day, Lee said. But I went to work for Lloyd Harben (former superintendent of Dawson County Schools) and the school system for five dollars a hour.
Over 20 years later, Lee said going to work for Lloyd Harden was the best decision he ever made.
He was a very nice feller to me. Mr. (Nicky) Gilleland and Mr. (Randall) Kent was here too, and they were very nice people to me. I really enjoyed working with all of em.
Many teachers and former and current coworkers shared some of their favorite memories of Lee with people attending the farewell party.
Renee Rogers, gifted teacher at RES, gave a heart-filled recollection of her fondest memory with him.
During my first year teaching, Mr. Buddy took me out in an old, rickety, yellow truck and cut a Christmas tree for me, said a teary-eyed Rogers. And that started the beginning of a very long, daddy-kid relationship.
She continued emotionally with thanking Buddy for his continued support and friendship.
Thank you so much for all the holes that youve bored all these years, she added, and for all the screws that youve put in. And for all the times that Ive put stuff together, and messed it up, and you redid it for me.
The memories continued to flow through the library as people spoke of their most cherished moments with the man everyone calls their buddy.
Well, Im about the oldest one here, and Im gonna have to cry too, said a long-time former coworker, Dot Sheffield.
Ive known Buddy ever since he was this, she said as she held her hand at knee level. So, Id been working here a good while when he came, and weve seen it change a lot.
We began to grow, and it was years before this part (of the building) come on down, Sheffield continued to share her memories of the former primary school prior to its merger with RES.
We didnt have bathrooms down here so we toted buckets of water from the lunchroom to put in the little alcoves for the children to get. He and I went through a pretty good little whack until they got the building ready to take in the children. Years passes, and hes been a real big help. Everyone thats worked with him, he taught. You couldnt call on him for nothing that he couldnt fix it or make do.
Sheffield finished sharing her memories by looking at Lee, and in a broken voice said, Its good to be here with you, Buddy.
Coworkers continued to thank Lee for his contributions to not only the school, but also for his friendship and teachings.
Gary Wilson, head custodian at RES, said although he hadnt worked with Lee for many years, his influence left a lasting impression.
After knowing Buddy these four years, and the talks weve had and the testimonies hes shared with me, I know that God can say, Well done my good and faithful servant.
Wilson also capitalized on the opportunity to let RES staff members know he would do his best to fill his friends shoes, but he still has a lot to learn.
All of the knowledge he has tried to throw at me, Wilson said humorously, I aint saying Ive grabbed it all, but bless his heart, hes tried.
Greta Shope, RES teacher, said the school was losing a true asset.
Theres nothing that Buddy Lee cant fix, she said. And no disrespect Mrs. Shirley, Shope said to Lees wife, but hes every girls dream husband. He can do any honey-do list, and its hard to find a man that truly has these kinds of skills. It all comes naturally to Buddy.
Shope also red-eyed thanked Lee for his years of support. Im gonna miss you Buddy, she said. Im thankful to have had this time with you, and you are one of the greatest to me.
After Lee received a multitude of hugs, handshakes and well-wishes, and the blessing was given, attendees filled their plates with a full spread of home-cooked fixins prepared by current and former coworkers, and everyone sat together and continued sharing stories about Robinsons best buddy.
RES Principal Roxanne Fausett said she was sad to see him leave, but was happy that he was able to retire and spend more time with his family.
Buddy comes from an era where his word is his word, Fausett said. He was always so dependable and consistent. And I sure am going to miss him. Everybody is.