Memories from a friend and colleague, Jennifer M. Foisy. Larry Audet, a retired EGSD custodian, died Feb. 20 at age 61.
You may have seen him in the hallways of Hanaford Elementary School on any given afternoon or evening. His name was Larry Audet and he was our beloved school custodian for many years. At first glance, you might think of him as the grumpy old janitor as that’s how many affectionately knew Mr. Larry. As one colleague fondly recalled, no one could open a door and lovingly hurl a rubbish bin into a room quite like Mr. Larry. But for a few of us at Hanaford, we got a glimpse inside the real Mr. Larry.
Who was the real Mr. Larry?
The real Mr. Larry was a father who loved his children with all his heart. If you asked him, he’d tell you all about them and his grandchildren as well.
The real Mr. Larry was the man who gave lollipops to the students who helped with the recycling program, after school of course… even if he got the evil eye for it.
The real Mr. Larry would always make you think he was going to say NO, but in reality, he was the first to lend a hand when you really needed it.
The real Mr. Larry would always tell you “don’t move the furniture, call me and I’ll help you”…. We knew he was being kind and helpful… but he would tell you he didn’t want you to put scratches on his newly waxed floor!
The real Mr. Larry had a fondness for children, after all he did work in an elementary school! Every summer, my seven-year-old son would look forward to going to “mommy’s school” to see Mr. Larry and he didn’t disappoint. The real Mr. Larry was always there! He always took the time to talk with him and joke with him.
The real Mr. Larry loved his Dunkin Donuts iced coffee.
The real Mr. Larry loved his chips and Dr. Pepper (when he was at school) and sometimes he would share, if you were seven.
The real Mr. Larry could be found at suppertime, sitting at a little desk in the cafeteria, eating his big, old sandwich…most nights by himself…except every year on Valentine’s Day when he looked forward to the tradition of Chinese food with a good friend.
What you probably didn’t know about Mr. Larry from a first glance was that he was incredibly dedicated to his work. He took pride in his work the way that few do today and it was reflected in halls of Hanaford School. He quietly set an example. Mr. Larry was the type of guy who insisted that you pack up your ENTIRE classroom the end of EVERY school year so that he could painstakingly move every piece of furniture out of your classroom. Then he would strip, wash and put no less than three coats of wax on your floor before returning every piece of furniture to its exact spot in your classroom, well before the teachers were ready to return for the first day of school. For ten years I grumbled about this process, HIS process, but my floors always looked amazing and have never looked the same since his departure.
He was the man who would stay late or come in on the weekend, including Labor Day weekend, to make sure that every classroom and hallway in the school were done before the first day of School. This wasn’t about putting in for overtime pay, this was pride in his work. This was the real Mr. Larry.