DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Gerald Snipes, a beloved custodian at Pearsontown Elementary, always manages to put a smile on everybody's face. The teachers and administrators say he represents much more than the duties associated with that job title.
First-grade teacher Angela Nunn smiles as she tells us, "At carpool in the morning he's out there, he's welcoming everybody. Opening and closing doors. In the afternoon, he's making sure that the buses get off safe."
Snipes has deep roots at Pearsontown.
"I've been working here for 38 years, 38 years! I'm about ready to wind it down. I've been here long enough," said Snipes.
He's spent 44 years at the Durham elementary school in all, counting his time there as a student.
"He started (here) in kindergarten, through the 5th grade," said Principal Rodriguez Teal. "He went to Githens (Middle School) and Jordan, after he graduated from Jordan High school he came back to work and he's been here ever since. "
"I was, I think, in 4th grade when Gerald started working here," Angela Nunn recalls, still smiling at the memory.
Now the principal's reaching out to the community for an assist with a photographic keepsake, a parting gift the school's working on now.
"Because the goal is to collect all these pictures to make a book he can take with him," says Teal.
He knows the Pearsontown community extends beyond the walls of this school. So if you're reading this and have access to photos of Gerald from back in the day when he was a student through this year, you're wanted in the principal's office.
"If there are any pictures out there you have of Gerald, please send them my way. We'd love to have 'em!" said Teal.
Meantime, Snipes has plans for his retirement. He likes to travel, so "I might go on a trip somewhere. I might go to Washington DC, Florida."
But before he leaves, the school has plans for him that'll make you smile, or shed a joyful tear. We'll update you as his last day, December 20, draws near.