Standing ovation for retirees

Published 7:46 am Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Departing board members, Sherry File and Randy Cuthbert. (The Daily News/John Eby)

Departing board members, Sherry File and Randy Cuthbert. (The Daily News/John Eby)

Dowagiac Union Schools Monday bid a fond goodbye to seven veterans who are retiring, including two board members, former president Randy Cuthbert with 16 years and Sherry File with 13.

Also retiring are Justus Gage teacher Nancy Crowl, Patrick Hamilton teacher Judy Bussler, maintenance’s George Wiersma and Terrie Wade and Patty Viestenz from the central administration office.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel introduced Crowl by talking about her husband, Mark, a retired Dowagiac elementary teacher; her daughter, Quinn, a food and beverage manager for the Lake Michigan College Mendel Center who lives in Lawton; Jacob, who works for Walt Disney World in Orlando; and Seth, in Montana.

Crowl spent more than 34 years of her 37-year career in Dowagiac. She wanted to be a teacher since age 9.

After starting out in Brown City, she taught first and second grade at Sister Lakes, second and fourth at Kincheloe and first and third at Justus Gage.

Growing up, she lived a block from a school, “which made it convenient to me to volunteer my help. Teaching is the career I wanted and I’m glad I chose it.”

Bussler, a mother of four with 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, has taught for 20 years.

She’s been in second grade for six years, first grade for three years and third grade for 11 years.

“She will definitely miss the Patrick Hamilton staff,” Daniel said.

Wiersma and his wife, Nancy, have a son, Keith, a daughter, Stephanie, and three grandchildren.

George worked in education for more than 38 years.

“He’s done a superb job,” Daniel said. Wiersma’s hobby is restoring and collecting nine Mopar muscle cars.

Wade “I’m more familiar with because she’s been with us in the central office,” Daniel said. “She’s just a pleasure to be around and always with a smiling face.”

Her husband, Herb, retired from USF Holland Motor Freight. She has two daughters, Christine and Robyn, and grandchildren.

She’s been with Dowagiac 34 years “and has been a superb person at handling accounts payable and purchasing. Her interests include secretary of Town and Country Garden Club, Niles Piecemakers quilt group, past president and treasurer of Band Boosters and loves to travel in her fifth-wheel trailer.”

“Patty V” as we call her,” Daniel said, is married to Robert and they have a daughter, Marisa, who dances with the Oklahoma Thunder of the NBA. She hired in with the district Dec. 13, 1979 — more than 31 years.

The former Miss Dowagiac “has been a secretary for various departments, including transportation, maintenance warehouse and school services director for state and federal programs, special education and pupil accounting. Numerous reports that we have to file, she has been key. What she does is going to be very difficult to replace. Her knowledge is unbelievable. You’re way too young to retire.”

Vice President Michelle Helmuth, who conducted the meeting in the absence of President Larry Seurynck, who had to be away on business, read his statement thanking Cuthbert, for his “remarkable” dedication to the board and school district, including his observation that Dowagiac should hire Daniel because he was the candidate who knew firsthand what excellence looks like; and File, for her “resolute determination to make changes that last,” from more information to more operational transparency.

File joined the board in 1998 and served as vice president from 2004-09.

Cuthbert was elected in 1995 and was its president from 1998-2010.