The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 21, 2013

Veteran worker keeps school campus in good repair

In the spotlight

Kelly Urban

EBENSBURG — What started as a temporary job turned into something a lot more permanent.

In December 1981, Bob Strittmatter, a resident of the Chest Springs area, was working in an auto body shop in Duncansville but found himself being laid off.

“The head maintenance guy at Bishop Carroll (Catholic High School) said there was a job opening and asked me if I wanted it,” the 56-year-old said.

So on Jan. 15, 1982, Strittmatter accepted the job as a custodian and has been at the high school ever since.

“I thought I’d get back to working auto body within a year or two since that’s what I studied in school, but I’m still here,” Strittmatter said.

When Strittmatter started with the custodial staff, his time was spent cleaning the building, mostly the classrooms and floors.

“They saw I could do some maintenance work like electric and plumbing, so I started doing that and also some cleaning,” he said.

Strittmatter now is the head of maintenance and works

with two other full-time employees.

These days Strittmatter, who works year-round at the school, can be seen doing various projects throughout the building like mounting smartboards in classrooms or installing Internet wires.

“You learn as you go,” Strittmatter said.

He recently finished waxing the gymnasium floor and is now working on renovating the shower in the boys locker


“Every day is new and different, and there is always something going on,” Strittmatter said.

In the winter months he is out at the crack of dawn shoveling snow off sidewalks and plowing parking lots, and in the summer he’s busy doing landscaping.

“I probably walk about five or six miles everyday walking around this building,” he said. “You’re always hustling.”

One program Strittmatter is involved with during the summer brings in students who work alongside the maintenance staff for six weeks.

This summer four students are participating.

“They basically assist us with whatever we do, from cutting grass to scrubbing desks,” Strittmatter said.

“It’s a good learning experience, and they pick up everything pretty quickly. The kids are fun to be around.”

High school Principal Lorie Ratchford said Strittmatter’s professional work and attention to detail is greatly appreciated by everyone.

“Bob is an excellent role model of working hard and treating others with kindness and respect,” Ratchford said.

“He keeps our school going.”

Joe Skura, an English teacher and the school’s public relations director, called Strittmatter a “class act” and believes the school couldn’t operate without him.

“He not only knows how to do everything and has an exceptional work ethic, but he treats everyone at Bishop Carroll like his own family,” Skura said.

“He’s a loyal employee who goes above and beyond because he cares about our school. He’s truly the go-to guy, and he

doesn’t let us down.”

Strittmatter said it’s a good feeling to know he’s appreciated for the work he does.

“People at this school have always been good to me, and it is like a family – that’s the best part,” he said.

And there’s another benefit, Strittmatter said: “Being around the kids keeps you young.”

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