Evelyn’s quiet way

Published Sep 25, 2013 at 6:56 am (Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 11:06 am)

W hen Evelyn C. Jozefkowicz died on Aug. 10, the Peters Township School District was still on summer break. Her beloved students, staff and bus drivers were enjoying lazy summer days away from the classroom. For many, her passing went unnoticed. And who would ever have thought the tiny lady who directed traffic during school hours along East McMurray Road was actually 91 years old.

Many parents and former students knew the petite lady only as Evelyn, unable to pronounce or spell her last name, and that was just fine with her.

For 60 of her 91 years, Evelyn worked for the Peters Township School District, first as a playground supervisor at the former Venetia Elementary School. Later, she moved to the cafeteria in the original high school, along East McMurray Road, and finally, ending her career as a crossing guard. Evelyn loved children, but never had any of her own. All of the district’s students were her children.

In her capacity as a crossing guard, the normally mild-mannered Evelyn ruled the road. Traffic flowed at a steady 15 mph. Any driver who reached the speed of 16 mph received a stare and a wave of her hand in a downward motion, the signal everyone knew meant to slow down. Didn’t matter who the offending driver was, even a district superintendent received the same treatment. Evelyn was a crossing guard and no one dared to cross Evelyn. She meant business and that business was to ensure the safety of the students, parents and district staff.

In all types of weather, Evelyn was at her station near the entrance to the McMurray Elementary School. In her honor, a sign proclaiming the area as “Evelyn’s Way” was installed. However, three months before her death, the sign was taken down because whomever put the sign up, did not get the school board’s approval. A glitch, but, nevertheless, when Evelyn died, her sign was gone.

One school board member called the act “heartless,” another referred to the removal as “bad timing.” Whatever happened has been rectified. The sign will go back up. And to ensure nothing like that happens again, the board is working on a memorial/donation policy to spell out exactly what procedure is needed before any action, like installing a road sign on district property, is taken. When the board voted to have the sign reinstalled, the audience applauded.

A month or so ago, township council erected a sign in memory of the late Robert Atkison. He served on council for more than 20 years and was a member of the ambulance service. He died unexpectedly in early July. The small traffic lane known as Atkison Way goes from East McMurray Road between the library and township building.

Just east of Atkison Way and on the same side of East McMurray Road, is Evelyn’s Way, both signs remembering the years of selfless contribution two individuals made as they worked tirelessly for their community in different capacities.

As you drive along East McMurray Road, take time to remember both Evelyn Jozefkowicz and Robert Atkison, and the many others who quietly go about their duties without the need for recognition.

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