‘My main concern is to protect my babies’; Hurricane crossing guard celebrates 88th birthday

Dave Lusk stands with Valley Academy Charter School Prinicpal Tracy Stevens, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 24, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

HURRICANE — In a bright yellow shirt last Monday afternoon, Dave Lusk celebrated his 88th birthday in the company of Valley Academy Charter school students, teachers and staff, as well as the Hurricane City Mayor John Bramall and Police Chief Lynn Excell.

Dave Lusk hugs students at his 88th birthday celebration at Valley Academy Charter School, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 24, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

This birthday celebration was a way to show gratitude to Lusk for his time serving as a crossing guard for both Valley Academy and Hurricane Elementary for the last seven years.

Born in 1932 in Corona, California, Lusk is father of three children, twin sons and a girl, grandfather and great-grandfather to many and great-great-grandfather to four. Up until he moved to Hurricane some 20 years ago, Lusk spent 50 years working various positions in the grocery business, beginning at Safeway in Corona. For the last 10 years prior to his retiring, Lusk worked as a checker.

When the opening came up seven years ago for the crossing guard position at Valley Academy, there were 45 applicants, Lusk said.

“I applied, but I got aced out. I was number two on the list,” he said.

But after about four months, the person who got the position quit, he said. Lusk was next in line and got the job.

Dave Lusk stands for a group photo at his 88th birthday celebration at Valley Academy Charter School, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 24, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“I just love it. I call my kids ‘my babies’ and I only have them for about 10, 12, 15 seconds each day crossing. But my main concern is to protect my babies,” Lusk said. “Sometimes they don’t realize how deadly a car can be.”

Being around children often stirs memories of his own youth.

“Every once in a while a parent will stop, and we’ll chat. And I always look at that parent and I tell them, ‘do you remember when we were this little? Do you think we were ever this small,'” he said, leaning back in his chair with a laugh.

“You can look at a child and then you look back at your own life and think, where was I when was that age, or that height, or that grade? Did I behave differently than these children do?”

In the downtime between when the children come and go from school, Lusk will often stay at his station to help joggers or anyone else in need of a safe crossing.

“If I need to stop a diesel truck for a senior citizen, I’ll do it,” he said.

Dave Lusk hugs a student at his 88th birthday celebration at Valley Academy Charter School, Hurricane, Utah, Feb. 24, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

The most memorable experience of his time serving as a crossing guard has been in watching “his babies grow.” Since his first year, Lusk has watched the kindergartners grow into 7th graders.

“99.9% of the people who come through my section are just great. Every once in a while you get, pardon my expression, a goofball,” he said laughing. “But that’s in anything you do.”

As long as Lusk feels good and doesn’t feel like he’s slipping physically or mentally, he’s going to keep serving as the crossing guard, he said.

Tyler Statton, who is 10 years old and in the fifth grade, said that he first met Lusk when he was in kindergarten.

“He’s always happy,” Statton said. “I remember the first time I walked by him, he gave me a high five and was just smiling at me, and I thought that was really nice of him to do.”

The best thing about Lusk is that he shows up to work everyday with a smile on his face, said Jenna Sanders, who is 11 years old and in the sixth grade. Sander started attending Valley Academy in the third grade.

“When I did first meet Dave, he had a smile on his face,” she said. “He’s just one kind man. He is kind, smart, caring and does everything with a positive attitude.”

In an email to St. George News, Valley Academy Principal Tracy Stevens wrote:

Dave still looks and works like he is 40 years younger than he actually is. He is the epitome of kindness and makes our children happy as they come to and from school. He always waves to cars and high fives or knuckles every child.

Excell also expressed his gratitude for Lusk.

“I have the best crossing guards anywhere,” he said. “I never have to worry about them. They’re always there. They’re dedicated. These kids mean more to them than anything, and I really can’t thank them enough.”

In turning 88, Lusk said the secret to happiness and longevity is understanding how the love of Jesus Christ overshadows anything on this Earth.

“When you look around you, material things will burn. The love of our lord and savior goes on for eternity. The father is always with you. My prayer everyday is protect my babies walking to school, walking home, and protect me from the people who want to harm any of us.”

A final word of advice Lusk offered before leaving to go eat pizza with the students was that “if you’re not pleased with your job, go do something else.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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