Archived Story

Starfish Stories/George Wiersma

Published 12:26pm Monday, September 16, 2013

Twenty-one years ago I came to Dowagiac Union Schools, in particular Lincoln School to do a presentation to my daughter’s pre-school class.

As I parked my truck and walked up to the building there was a Dowagiac maintenance man by the name of George Wiersma working on some windows.

I remember thinking how nice they looked.

Little did we know that in less than a year we would be working together for almost two decades.

George started working for Dowagiac schools in 1973 as a custodian at Union High School.

With his diverse background he developed, in his youth, a love of cars and a skill for maintaining and repairing almost anything.

A co-worker described George’s aptitude in mechanical diagnostics as excellent. I concur.

A few years after beginning his career at Union High School, George bid on and received a job in the Maintenance Department.

It was a turning point in his life, a solid investment for Dowagiac Schools and a position he still holds today.

George began his apprenticeship under the direction of Maintenance Supervisor Bill Wurzel.

Throughout the years and not without hard work, resolve, vision and work ethics, George advanced to the top position in the Maintenance Department.

Many of the tasks that George performs go without notice.

Examples are: 2 a.m. snow plowing, working under the floors in the tunnels at various schools, roof tops, boiler rooms, classrooms, scoreboards, restrooms, bleachers, kitchen equipment; the list can go on and on.

If you can think of it, George has done it. He’s been in the places no man dares to go.

One of the strengths and areas of personal pride is the care of the district boilers. This is the heart of the building heating system. Some of the district boilers are more than 50 years old and run as efficient as the newest boilers.

Outside of work George restores Mo-Par cars, in particular 1969 Road Runners and loves to compete in area car shows.

His wife Nancy is a lifelong gardener and writes an occasional article for the Dowagiac Daily News.

They have two children, Keith and Stephanie, and three grandchildren.

It is with very high regards to a man who has earned my respect and many members of the school family and the community that I write this article.

Seldom in today’s society does a person spend their entire career at one institution.


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