Crossing guard retires after 28 years

Manassas resident Frances Wilder turned in her crossing guard uniform Monday, officially ending 28 years of directing traffic at school crosswalks in Prince William County.

And she says she’s going to miss the students who walked to school and the parents who drove by and waved.

And the students are going to miss her as well.

Fifth-grader Erik Jensen was glad Wilder, affectionately known as “Miss Fran,” stopped by George E. Mullen Elementary School on Thursday.

Jensen, a member of the safety patrol at Mullen, would join Wilder at the corner of Rodes Drive and Sebels Way to direct traffic, ensuring students crossed the street safely. The corner is located slightly before the Mullen’s main entrance.

Jensen was among the students who said goodbyes and gave their hugs at the street corner April 4 — Wilder’s last day.

“You made it look easy,” Jensen told Wilder of her role. “She did the best job I’ve ever seen any crossing guard do.”

“I did miss not getting up Monday morning and not coming out,” Wilder said. “You’re not a guard for 28 years and say you don’t miss it.”

Wilder, 62, landed her first job as a crossing guard at Loch Lomond Elementary School in 1975. After Lomond, she patrolled crosswalks at Sinclair Elementary School.

She came to Mullen in 1990 — when the school opened. At Stonewall Jackson High School, she asssisted other school crossing guards with directing bus traffic.

“It’s a hard job,” said Jan Arceo, Mullen’s patrol sponsor.

Arceo has worked with Wilder since the school opened.

“You had your good days and you had your bad days but everybody has that on their job,” Wilder said.

Wilder worked with parking enforcement under the police department’s Crossing Guard Bureau in the early 1980s.

She would ticket cars at shopping centers and in residential areas of Manassas. Wilder still continued as a crossing guard during her eight years in parking enforcement, she said.

Wilder chose to become a crossing guard because she liked working during school hours. Wilder would arrive about an hour before school began and stayed an hour after school released — making sure each child crossed the street safely.

The hours allowed Wilder to spend more time at home with her four children — who are each now grown and married. Sheis also grandmother to eight and great-grandmother to one.

After living in Manassas for 32 years, Wilder and her husband will pack their bags and move to a new home in West Virginia on April 26.

Wilder looks forward to spending her spare time working on crafts, ceramics and flower arrangements, she said.

Staff writer Jennifer Brennan can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 123.

Similar Posts