Robert Frew ushered his last group of Orange City Elementary School students safely across the street this month.
The 92-year-old originally planned to work only two years as a crossing guard. He enjoyed the job and the community so much that two years turned into 16, including 10 years at Orange City Elementary.
Reminiscing about the people he met and the amusing stories he heard from students daily, Frew said he will miss the students the most.
“I’m really going to miss the kids,” Frew said. “They’ve been so good to me. I love them all.”
The school honored his years of dedication and service with a parade on June 4, his final day, to celebrate his retirement.
With fist bumps and hugs, the students said their goodbyes and shared small tokens of appreciation with Frew.
Faculty gathered, holding up handmade signs of support and commemoration. Families drove by, honking and shouting words of encouragement.
“Mr. Bob, don’t leave us, please,” said one student as he embraced Frew.
A few parents and staff members in the crowd shed tears.
Joaquin Cartagena, the other crossing guard on duty with Frew, expressed how thankful he has been for Frew’s presence over the past year-and-a-half that they’ve worked together.
“I’m going to miss him a lot,” Cartagena said. “He was in the Navy, and I was in the Army, so we would get together and talk about the good old days.”
Theresa Morrison, an academic coach at the elementary school, said she has known Frew since she began her job at the school in 2015, so she was able to be part of his 90th-birthday celebration.
“Him and his wife sit out here. They get here at about 6:40 every morning, and they sit right in that parking spot over there,” Morrison said. “I’m going to miss seeing his face.”
To commemorate Frew’s years of service, faculty, staff and community members gathered together with the beloved longtime crossing guard.
Orange City Elementary Principal Charles Bynum made a proclamation honoring Frew and establishing Robert Frew Day. This will occur annually on June 4.
“Because we appreciate you being out here and taking care of our road runners every day, making sure they get across the street … I am officially making a proclamation for you today,” Bynum said. “Orange City Elementary will create Robert Frew Day to recognize him and the many crossing guards that serve our community and make a positive impact on the lives of the city they serve.”
As the ceremony concluded, Bynum expressed his personal appreciation for Frew, whom he first met six years ago.
“He’s a special guy, and he’s been a special friend of mine since I’ve been here,” Bynum said. “There’s a lot of things I worry about during the day, being a principal, but the crossing guard is not one of them. I know he’s always out there.