A South Carolina woman has decided to come out of retirement after leaving her job a month ago. A sense of duty to her community prompted a 95-year-old to pull out her crossing guard uniform and return to her post as one of her community’s most beloved civil service workers
On Monday, Aug. 22, the first day of the 2022-2023 school year, Estella Williams donned a new fluorescent yellow safety vest and assumed the role she’s enjoyed over the last 26 years, Westside High School crossing guard, the Independent Mail reports.
While most nonagenarians are sitting back in an easy chair, enjoying their golden age, Williams is activating her internal community stakeholder and answering a call for help from her local school district.
Officials at the Anderson School District Five said they needed more assistance with the safety of the children, Williams unretired. She loves her job and according to WYFF 4, she was “bored.”
“I just got bored,” she said, sharing with the outlet she tried volunteering with Meals on Wheels, Hospice and the Veterans Hospital to supplement not working and she said, “that wasn’t enough.”
As a crossing guard, she is responsible for directing cars, buses, the teen and adult pedestrians as they try to make it across the busy State Highway 28 Bypass.
On her first day back, she was greeted not only by the young people probably shocked to see her return, but her boss. Lt. Greg Hayden, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office supervisor of crossing guards, came by to welcome her back.
Flashing her red stop sign, pictures show Hayden chuckling at her as she moves in her element, stopping school buses and telling cars to go.
Williams was ready to start back. She even attended orientation like a newbie a few days prior. As soon as she walked in, reports say, she was met with a standing ovation.
“They were happy to see me come in,” Williams said.
People in the community are not the only ones who celebrated Williams.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tweeted his salute, acknowleding her as “the oldest crossing guard in the US.”
Bless our elders and the LOVE they have for our communities. Estella Williams was the oldest crossing guard in the US, until she retired. Now, she's back to help the community because she missed it so much! Thank you, Estella, for continuing to keep our kids safe! 👏🏾
📸: Blavity pic.twitter.com/1MnjcswDqP
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 2, 2022
As a part of the orientation, the sheriff’s office provided her with a new uniform. They had to. The gear she had before is currently on display at the Anderson Museum.
Multiple media outlets came out to report on her first day, interviewing her about what made her come back, what drives her love for the work, and how she is feeling.
The spry senior maintained a smile but gave very short answers. However, when they asked her what she liked most about the job, Williams said, “The traffic and the people stopping when I tell them to stop.”
When asked why she works with so much pride, she said, “I try to do the people right. I don’t let them stay too long and I try to give everyone a chance.”
Her school crossing guard detail is her second career (now her third). Before working for the district, she worked three decades cleaning Michelin Tire facilities. At the age of 69, she was asked to help her son-in-law out, but wound-up spending three more decades in this capacity, Southern Living revealed in March 2022.
One might think the mother of 18, grandmother of 55, great-grandmother of 84, and great-great-grandmother of 17, would be tired of children. But she is not. This is part of what drives her.
“I loved getting the kids across the road safely,” she said. A community staple, they love her for doing it, too.