Being a crossing guard may be a simple task when it comes to stopping traffic for children to get to school, but there's a whole lot more behind it when it comes to dedicating years and years of one's life to it.
Violet Welch, 86, started her job …
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Violet Welch, 86, started her job as a crossing guard in 1968. In mid-September, she retired her neon vest to the Sumter Police Department after her doctor advised her to.
"My heart got out of rhythm, and they had to put me on medication to control that," Welch said. She said she would have kept doing it this year if her doctor didn't advise her against it.
"Ms. Welch is a fine example of service above self. Rain, wind, cold or hot weather, Ms. Welch was always on her post sharing an encouraging word with the children she served," Capt. Robert Singleton, with the Patrol Division for the Sumter Police Department, said. "Her retirement, although so well deserved, leaves a void at the Sumter Police Department and Crosswell Elementary School that will not be easily filled."
For 50 years, Welch worked the crosswalk of Crosswell and Bowman drives. She never worked another crosswalk, and she wouldn't have had it any other way.
"Once I start something, I just hate to quit," she said. "I saw different children come and go. I enjoyed it."
In the beginning, Welch didn't plan on being a crosswalk guard, as her husband, E.A. Welch, didn't plan on having her work outside the home, as times were different back in the '60s.
"He didn't want me working because he said he married me to take care of me," Welch said, "but that has changed, hasn't it?"
Welch said she did work a couple of jobs before becoming a crossing guard while her husband was overseas in Germany with the Army. This was a part of another generational change when women began working outside of the home, doing the men's work while they were away from home.
Welch and her husband had a friend that was head of the traffic patrol back then, and he asked Welch to help out over and over again. She also had friends that went to work as crossing guards, and she wanted to give it a try after they said it was fun.
"I really didn't want to be one, but my youngest son went into kindergarten, and they kept asking me to do it, so I tried," Welch said.
After giving the job a shot, Welch became dedicated to the job.
Seeing so many generations pass her by, Welch saw children cross her walk during the time of integration, the birth of different music genres, decades of fashions and much, much more.
She even witnessed children grow up to only have their own kids cross her walk as they once did before. Welch witnessed history in the making.
"It was a beginning," Welch said. "It just changed."
Welch said what she loved most about the job was that it got her up and out of bed in the mornings, but she's enjoying sleeping in later than usual now.
Although sleeping is great, she said she'll miss not going to work anymore.
"I miss not being over there when they're coming to school and when they're going home," Welch said. "I just enjoyed doing it, and I wanted to do it after I got started."
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