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Longtime maintenance worker at Lebanon schools retiring

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    Cliff Dyer, a maintenance worker with Lebanon Public Schools, builds a platform for new lockers that will be installed at Lebanon Middle School at a facilities department warehouse in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 24, 2021. Dyer, who started working as a school custodian when he was 17 and is set to retire at the end of the month, said that when he interviewed for the job he was asked how many years he planned to stay. "At least a couple," he replied. "Forty-eight years, I'm still here." (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America photographs — Alex Driehaus

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    Cliff Dyer, right, unloads bread and bagels from his brother, Bob Rudder, of Canaan, N.H., at a facilities department warehouse in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 24, 2021. Dyer feeds the bread to his horse, cows, and chickens. "He had to have a steady job to pay for his farming," Rudder joked. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

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    Cliff Dyer walks out the door of a facilities department warehouse in Lebanon, N.H., on Thursday, June 24, 2021. One of Dyer's favorite parts of his job has been interacting with students and teachers. "If you see a kid that doesn't have a milk for lunch, take the time, buy the kid a milk. That'll go a long way," he said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/25/2021 9:59:27 PM
Modified: 6/25/2021 9:59:37 PM

LEBANON — After 48 years as a maintenance employee with the Lebanon School District, Clifford Dyer will be retiring next week.

And when Dyer heads home to Grantham to take care of his horse, two beef cows and 13 chickens with his wife, Cindy, the Lebanon School District will miss him.

“He’s irreplaceable,” Director of Facilities Dana Arey, Dyer’s supervisor, said Thursday. “If there’s a MacGyver in this world who can make sunshine out of rain, he’s the guy.”

Dyer’s tenure began back in 1973 when he left his job bagging groceries at IGA to work for his hometown school system. At 17 years old making $2.25 an hour, Dyer had no idea how important the job would become in his life.

“During the interview (they) asked me how many years I was planning to work there. Being young and stuff I said, ‘at least a couple.’ ... I’m thinking, ‘What am I going to do every morning when I get up now?’ ” said Dyer, now 65, before pausing to drill a screw into the platform he was building for middle school lockers.

As those first couple years expanded to decades, Dyer, who was known to many students as “Mr. Cliff,” relied on teamwork and a drive to get the job done.

“(I) just get in here and do what I was supposed to do and stick to my business,” Dyer said. “If I can’t do it, I know who can.” According to his colleagues and supervisors, Dyer’s business often includes the needs of those around him.

“I think Cliff is one of the most generous people I’ve met in the school district,” said retired technical education teacher John Carey, who worked in the district for nine years. “One of the courses I taught was woodworking, and a lot of the time you’d need material that wasn’t readily available — big slabs of wood, for instance. Cliff had his own farm; he would always come up with material for me. He would donate it and it was always well-appreciated. He always kept his eye open for stuff that the kids might need or use.”

Lebanon Director of School and Community Relations Dianne Estes remembers that Cliff welded her stained glass art piece when it broke and built cabinets for teachers who needed them.

“Believe me, everything he built stands the test of time,” she said. “They are still in use.”

Estes is not alone on the receiving end of Dyer’s kindness, which he speaks about as if it were common sense.

“I treat people as I would want to be treated myself,” Dyer said. “If you see a kid that doesn’t have a milk for lunch, take the time and buy the kid a milk.”

Over the years, Dyer has collected a lot of stories. He remembers when a rival football team took down Lebanon High School’s goal posts and he reconstructed them with some colleagues before the next day’s game.

Another time, he was on a tractor by the soccer field when a moose started running around the field. Every time he turned the tractor off, the moose would stop and lie down on the ground.

Dyer was recognized for his 48 years of work at the maintenance and transportation facility last week, along with custodian Dennis McGonis, who is retiring after 33 years with the Lebanon school district. According to Arey, staff, maintenance and custodian staff all chipped in to give them gift cards to Cabela’s. Dyer was also given a rosewood box engraved with his name and years of service.

“The commitment that he has given the district, especially over all of those years, is phenomenal,” Arey said. “What has he done for the district? He’s done everything. You don’t find employees often like Cliff.”

Dyer said his heart goes out to the current custodians, whose workload has increased considerably because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As he moves into a new chapter, Dyer doesn’t care how students and colleagues remember him. He said he wants them “just to remember me.”

Dyer said that retirement was a difficult decision to make because he has enjoyed his work. But ultimately, “you work at a place for 48 years and you earn it.”

Jasmine Taudvin can be reached at jtaudvin@vnews.com.




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