Retired principal never stopped caring

News-DemocratDecember 29, 2013 

Gary Huwer left Millstadt Consolidated School quietly on the last Friday in June.

He retired after nearly 45 years as a principal, teacher and bus driver at the school, as reported by BND Magazine.

"I was the last one out of the building that night," said Gary, 67, of rural Millstadt. "I walked around, made sure all the doors were locked and all the lights were off, and I walked out the door."

As principal, Gary often stayed late for sports games, parent-teacher conferences and other activities. But this time, it was different.

Gary stored files from his office in a grain bin on his 110-acre farm. He hung his pictures and model B-29 airplane in his house and gave his mother, Arlene Huwer, his mounted deer head.

"I really haven't had time to sit down and go through everything," he said. "Every once in a while, I'll need something, and I'll go out (to the grain bin) and get it. I know where everything is."

Gary has a new part-time job. He's helping a childhood friend, Wayne Laufer, distribute scholarship money to former Millstadt students in college.

"I didn't want to say 'no' to him, and if I can help these kids, great," Gary said. "I know all of them."

Gary rents out his farm fields but mows the yard and feeds the dog, cat, ducks and chickens.

Since retirement, he's been able to tackle some long-delayed maintenance projects on barns and other outbuildings.

"I went deer hunting on opening day, and it's the first opening day I've ever hunted," he said. "I used to say, 'What's wrong with this picture?' The boss is here (at school), and everybody else is knocking off."

Gary also has been working on some of his 20 classic cars. He had a new hardtop and hood put on his silver-blue 1964 Corvette and replaced parts on his 1961 dark-silver Corvette.

Gary helped his mother get a new furnace and roof and substituted as a school-bus driver six times this fall.

"I know what it's like when you're in the position where you need drivers and you don't have them," he said.

Occasionally, Gary will get a call from Principal Josh Lane for information or advice, but he avoids looking over the new guy's shoulder.

Gary has two grown children, Amber Hays and Ted Huwer, and four grandchildren. He's done a little more baby-sitting than usual this year.

"Am I happier (in retirement)? People tell me I am," he said. "I almost feel guilty that I'm not working on a daily basis. But I earned those pension checks. I worked six days a week from the time I was 18 until I was 65.

"I miss the kids (at the school). I miss a lot of the parents and the teachers. We had a happy group. People will say, 'How's retirement going?' and I'll say, 'Every day is Saturday.'"

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