The Florence Township Council dedicated a portion of it’s Sept. 4 meeting to honor a longtime resident for her years of service to the community.
Angela Lowery, a Florence resident for more than 40 years, was recognized by the municipality in honor of her retirement as a township crossing guard.
From April 28, 1999 to May 1, 2019, Lowery served as a crossing guard for the municipality at the corner of 3rd and Broad streets.
In commemoration of her longtime service to the community, Lowery was joined by family, friends and colleagues as well as multiple municipal officials at the meeting, who shared words of praise for her dedication to the position.
With the school year back in full swing this month, Lowery admitted that this September was a bit different for her after approximately 20 years of waking up each weekday morning to make sure youths safely traversed to school.
“I am kind of melancholy now because I’m thinking, ‘I can be out there,’” Lowery said. “I was a bit down this week because I knew school was starting and I’m feeling good, but when it becomes 10 degrees outside, I don’t think I will miss it.”
As much as the former Florence crossing guard expressed her content for the work, she said she finally had to retire in April due to health complications, which stymied her from her daily duties.
Reminiscing on her fond memories of the position though, Lowery said she will miss her daily interactions with the Florence youths and parents the most. She also said it was not lost on her to witness youths move through their teenage years and progress to high school as they matured into adults.
Lowery commented that she had even become a familiar face to some students after all these years, too.
“Throughout the 20 years I had been doing this, I was waving to everyone. Even if I didn’t know their names, I still waved to them,” she said. “I enjoyed watching the kids grow, and you had children that were really sweet. You would watch them grow, then they eventually go into high school and afterwards, some of them might come back and say, ‘You were my crossing guard in high school.’ I miss that.”
As Lowery prepares to venture into her next journey in life through retirement, she explained that it felt “weird” to no longer wake up to the daily routine of work. She explained that since she was 18-years-old, she had been employed to various positons in workplaces such as offices and banks.
She said that once her husband, Bob, eventually earned a job as a corrections officer, he told her she no longer needed to work full-time. Wanting to escape the familiar office space settings after many years of work in the field, Lowery said she wanted to be outside. Given her familiarity with multiple officers in the Florence Township Police Department, part-time work as a crossing guard in the township seemed to be the perfect fit for Lowery.
Once she received training for the position, Lowery was initially posted as a crossing guard for the township at 2nd and Broad streets up until the historic Marcella L. Duffy School closed, which is now a senior housing facility. Upon the closing of the school, she was moved to 3rd and Broad streets where she remained posted for her career.
Although Lowery holds mostly fond memories of her time as a Florence crossing guard, she said the position did not come without its day-to-day challenges as well. With the potential dangers involved of motorists traversing through intersections, Lowery said she made it a point to ensure drivers knew she was there.
“You had to put the children first. They were a priority,” she said. “The biggest problem was with drivers because a lot of them did not stop. They would yell, holler and curse at me, but I would tell them, ‘If you have a problem with me, then you have to talk to the police station.’ What they don’t realize is that if it was their kids, they would stop.
“People would come up to me and tell me that it was a good thing I was there because if I wasn’t, the cars wouldn’t stop. Sometimes, if I really got upset, I would go up to the cars and say, ‘Don’t you see me? How can you miss me?’”
Florence Township Chief of Police Brian Boldizar even expressed that Lowery’s efforts toward the position went above and beyond the call of duty.
“When [Lowery] got sick, I had worked at her post a couple times, and that was an intersection where we had some trouble with the kids not paying attention, walking in the street – not following what they were told. But she was able to get these kids into shape and pay attention,” Boldizar said. “When I was out there, the kids would wait when they were supposed to, so that’s a credit to her for all her time of working with them until the end of the school year.”
Not only did Boldizar commend Lowery for her work throughout the years, he explained that she and the other Florence crossing guards deserved ample praise as well.
“This is a sad day for us because [Lowery] was a great crossing guard,” Boldizar said. “A lot of people take advantage of what they do. They are out their first thing in the morning no matter if it’s raining or snowing, and [Lowery] was always was one of the crossing guards you never had to worry about. She was always there on time, and you never got any complaints about her.”
Upon Lowery’s retirement from the position, the Florence police chief reached out to her to request an honorary acknowledgement from the municipality, which she said she happily accepted.
Florence Mayor Craig Wilkie noted that Lowery’s efforts aimed to make an important contribution to the community.
“You have put in a lot of time in, a lot of energy and appreciation,” Wilkie said. “A lot of children are safe today because of what you did.”
Lowery said that it made her “feel good and important” to be recognized by the municipality, but also explained that there was no other community she would have rather worked in than Florence.
“I preferred this community because it’s small. People will wave most times and ask how I am doing,” she said. “You miss those little things.”
Now retired, Lowery said she plans to join a local gym with her husband as well as catch up on some Philadelphia Phillies baseball.