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'Middle of the road' career ends as crossing guard retires after 36 years

Susan Brisboe started as a crossing guard for West Ottawa's Woodside Elementary School in 1984. She retired after 36 years of leading little ones to safety.

HOLLAND, Mich — There was a time when people would get a job and decided to keep it for their entire working life, but that rarely happens anymore, unless you're a crossing guard at West Ottawa Public School's Woodside Elementary School in Holland.

After 36 years assisting children across the intersection of 144th Avenue and Edmeer Drive, Susan Brisboe has decided to hang up her reflective jacket, put down the stop sign and retire.

"It's been wonderful," said Brisboe. "Otherwise, I wouldn't have stuck it out this long."

Brisboe started as a crossing guard in 1984 when her two children were attending Woodside Elementary. She says she fell in love with the role and decided to just keep doing it.

"I love the children," said Brisboe. "The staff and the children are who I'll miss most."

Credit: WZZM
After 36 years of being a crossing guard at the same intersection in Holland, Mi., Susan Brisboe has retired.

Woodside Elementary principal Greg Rutten didn't have enough words to describe how much Brisboe has meant to the school.

"Each day she's come in and treated the kids well," said Rutten. "Nothing says more of a commitment to a school than serving 30-plus years as a crossing guard."

While at her post every day, Brisboe says she's cherished every child she's helped make it across the intersection safely. Based on what's she's witnessed, it's the adults driving by she's most concerned about.

Credit: WZZM
Every day during the school year since 1984, through many brutal winters, Susan Brisboe has reported to her post as a crossing guard in Holland, Mi.

"I've had people drive by shaving, putting on makeup, eating a bowl of cereal without their hands on the wheel and brushing their teeth," said Brisboe. 

Brisboe says she had planned to retire when the school year ended last spring but when the pandemic abruptly ended things, that's not how she wanted to go out. 

She wanted to come back this fall to leave on her own terms.

"I wanted to come back to see the kids again and have a chance to say goodbye," said Brisboe.

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