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Beyer to reluctantly step away from Winskill after 48 years
Has worked in Lancaster Community Schools since 1972
When the last day of school takes place at Winskill Elementary School, it will be a tough one for custodian Donna Beyer. Oh, she loves the day - with its last day picnic and assembly.
    But this last day will be sad as it will be her last working in the school, as she plans to retire from her job of 48 years sometime in July.
    “That is going to be hard for me,” Beyer stated. “I’m going to miss the kids - that is the hardest part.”
    Donna was not far from being out of school when her mother spotted an advertisement in the newspaper for a part-time cleaning job at the school in November 1972. Beyer had been working different cleaning jobs, and jumped at the chance to clean at the school. “Oh good, I can get in there and start cleaning,” Donna quipped, noting her love of cleaning.
    It wasn’t a very lengthy process for Donna to get hired. “When I got up here, I filled out the application, and they said ‘you’re hired. You can start out today,” she remembers hearing.
    She was there for four hours a day for the first decade before she was asked to also work in the kitchen. “I loved it, I love cleaning dishes,” Donna reflected with enthusiasm. She carried on with split duties for five years until she was made a full-time custodian.
    Except for a time where she would fill in at the high school, and they rotated custodians, she has been in Winskill ever since.
    Donna has her checklist of things she does every day, from going to the old middle school/annex, dusting the central office every Tuesday and Thursday, then cleaning the main restrooms, the nurse’s station, the locker rooms, sweeping the halls, then after school cleaning 10 classrooms.
    Her checklist is interrupted, though, as messes pop up throughout the day.
    “I get a call on my radio and they say ‘can you clean up this mess?” she jokes.
    Most common mess? In the restroom, with different items on the walls and floor.
    “You get your education really fast,” Donna quipped, noting the children are creative with what they may draw on the walls, like a boy and girl kissing.
    But those cleanups never get tedious for Beyer, who just loves the interaction with the students.
    “That is what makes my day - I can see the little kids and they give me a hug,” she noted.
    She loves how they come up and talk with her, give her a hug, take pride when they have helped clean up one of those messes.
    “My day goes fast.”
    Now Donna never expected to be in the same job for 48 years, but she doesn’t know where the time went. “The years just flew by.”
    Donna wanted to hold out until she had 50 years in, but health just wouldn’t allow it. For the past two years, she said she fought her doctor, who wanted her to give up all the walking and standing on the hard surfaces in the school. “She said ‘you got to give it up girl. You just can’t linger on…..Your legs aren’t going to take that,” Donna said of the advice her doctor gave her, but she still put off retiring.
    “I’d say ‘yeah, yeah, I will,” she remembered.
    She also put off pleas from her husband, Clarence. Now retired for five years himself, Clarence wanted to travel. “He can’t go no where without me,” she said.
    Her response? “I told my husband that I love my job.”
    She was looking to hold out as long as she could. Just over a week ago, Donna still wanted to wait until November, but now enticed to travel - with the exception of trips to family in Rockford and stops in Madison, she hasn’t been out of the area - she decided July was the right time.
    Clarence and Donna are planning to go to South Dakota sometime this summer.
    Because of her longevity, Donna got a bit of a surprise earlier this month when she talked to Principal Brad Sturmer. Sturmer asked her what she was doing one day, she told him she planned to go over to Platteville to handle some business.
    “Oh no you are not,” she remembers him telling her. “You are gong to be on Channel 15 news.”
    “Do I really have to?” she asked.
    “Oh yes, you have been here the longest,” he replied.
    Donna enjoyed the recognition for her tenure at the school, but she continues to double back to how she will miss the kids, as well as those she works with. She said that she has seen generations grow up, seen them around town, goes to their graduations, and seen them send their children to the school.