It’s the end of an era. Before the new fiscal year, A&F will say goodbye to two cornerstone employees who are entering well-deserved retirements. OHR Associate Randy Peaker retired April 30, and Landscape Services Manager Paul Thomas will retire June 1. Both men are known as much for their personal kindnesses as they are for their professional accomplishments. Read on as colleagues from across the university share the impact Randy and Paul have made during their combined 69 years at TU.
From snowstorms to flower beds, Paul and his staff maintain and improve all 329 acres of campus. But Paul’s real influence is evident not in the plants, but the people he worked with:
“When I went through a personal crisis many years ago, Paul was there for me from start to finish. I was pretty much stuck with a home that I could not care for alone. I would arrive home from work to find that he had mowed my lawn while I was gone. He also removed a large dying tree for me using his personal time and resources. He adamantly refused to accept money. I will never forget the kindness that he extended to me, nor will I forget how nice it has been to work on projects for the university together.” – Barbara Hufnagel, Contract Administrator/MBE Liaison, Procurement
“I have known Paul for a little over 20 years, and his thoughtfulness goes way beyond what you see every day on campus. I’ve watched Paul go above and beyond on many landscaping projects, especially with the University Union pond. Paul was instrumental in making the pond a special and peaceful place. Not only did Paul reconstruct the pond, but he also added a memorial plaque in honor of a late coworker who enjoyed visiting it. Paul’s heart is just as beautiful as his work around campus.” – Jerri Sumwalt, Executive Administrative Assistant, Fiscal Planning and Services
“Through my work with Paul on the Employee Picnic and Fourth of July Parade, I have come to know him as a man who unfailingly supports his co-workers and colleagues. Nothing is ever too much trouble for him to do, and jumping in to help is his second nature. He’s known as the man who produced a beautifully landscaped campus—but he also makes sure it’s best for the environment. Paul’s efforts in helping with water and land conservation, campus sustainability and retention of such sites as the Glen Arboretum indicates the depth of his commitment to TU. I know we will all miss Paul a great deal, and hope his future continues to “bloom” with success, good health and happiness.” – Sherry McKendry, Executive Administrative Assistant, Office of Human Resources
Randy Peaker is often the first face that new TU employees come into contact with. His welcoming presence has made a difference for many newcomers and old-timers alike:
“I first came to Towson for an interview 10 years ago and was sitting in the OHR lobby when Randy greeted me. I was so unbelievably nervous, and Randy said ’Don’t worry, just relax! You can do this.’ After the interview, I thanked him for the encouragement and he told me, ‘you got the job, I can feel it.’ Ten years later I am still here. It is in Randy’s nature to help any and every person he comes across, whether it’s at Towson University or beyond. He could be assisting a new hire with paperwork, volunteering on or off campus, working on his car, bowling with the Towson League, playing pool or even line dancing: he does it all with grace and style. He is the best!” – Cheryl Harris, Human Resource Supervisor
“A freshman student once came into the OHR looking for directions to Burdick. Rain had been pouring all morning, and she was soaked. After giving her a map, Randy asked her if she was driving or walking. She replied she would have to walk across campus, and when Randy asked if she had an umbrella, she shook her head, but said, “It doesn’t matter, I’m soaked already – I just need to get to my class.” Randy picked up his keys and drove the student to Burdick so she would make her class. That commitment and dedication to service is one aspect of Randy’s personality that is hard to beat.” – Sherry McKendry, Executive Administrative Assistant, Office of Human Resources
“I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Randy. He took care of me when I first started out at TU—especially at the New Hire Orientation—and has been helpful ever since. His selfless nature showed itself, for example, when he took extra pains to ensure that every single new hire was provided adequate parking so that we wouldn’t get fined. He wouldn’t have been affected by our troubles, but he went out of his way to make sure we were taken care of anyway. His replacement has big shoes to fill.” – Patrick Chachulski, Testing Center Coordinator, Disability Support Services
Leave your memories/goodbyes for Paul and Randy in the comments section below!
Written by Tyler New