For 30 years, Mark VanBuren has worked as a custodian with USD 490. Today is his last day before he moves on to a new phase of his life – retirement.
VanBuren started with the district on March 1, 1983.
He had worked with Cessna for three to four years, but kept getting laid off in the early 1980s. While he was looking for another job, he was talking to one of the ladies at the USD 490 Central Office who told him about a custodian job opening at Skelly.
“It was just going to be a temporary job,” VanBuren said. “I enjoyed it so much and there was such a nice staff, I kept hanging around.”
During his early years with USD 490, Cessna did call him to come back, but he decided to stay where he was.
“We’ve got a great staff, and the little guys are fun to be around,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to miss the most, the people.”
During his 30-year tenure with the district, VanBuren also worked at head custodian at El Dorado High School from 1989 to 1991, then returned to Skelly as head custodian, before going on to the rec center from 2007 to 2010 as head custodian.
“Then my boss came back to ma and said they needed me back at Skelly,” VanBuren said.
That put him back there prior to the opening of the new school, something that was quite a chore.
VanBuren said it took a couple of months to get everything moved over to the new building and get everything stocked. But he said now it is all running smoothly there.
Over the last 30 years, VanBuren has created a lot of memories.
“They all like to give me a hard time,” he said. “We’re like one big family here.”
VanBuren is one of only two or three men who work in the building.
“So it’s a pretty rough life,” he said with a laugh.
VanBuren knows how to tease them back, too.
He recalled one time when Bernie Spradling was principal and it was Halloween. She was taking treats around to the classrooms and he was hiding behind a door and jumped out and scared her when she went by. He still recalls how loud she screamed.
“She always gives me a hard time about it,” he said, “asking ‘have you sacred anyone lately.’”
VanBuren enjoys playing pranks on his co-workers, part of the reason they return the teasing so often.
Page 2 of 2 - On another occasion, he put a fake snake on one para’s chair and said she screamed so loud she could have been heard all the way from Skelly to the El Dorado Times.
“Every day is just enjoyable to work here,” he said.
Retirement doesn’t mean slowing down for VanBuren, who just turned 55.
He will be helping on the 160-acre family farm in Burns, where he also enjoys hunting and fishing. He looks forward to spending more time with his parents, as well as traveling to Texas with them for a couple of weeks a year, where his parents go each winter.
He also has a Gold Wing Motorcycle and plans to do some traveling on that, as well as a recent purchase of a four-wheeler to keep him busy. In addition, he has a place in Colorado he likes to go for a couple of months each summer and has plans to continue that, exploring the mountains and Continental Divide on his four-wheeler with his older brother.
He also enjoys bow hunting and riffle hunting, and he enjoys kayaking and has a fishing kayak he takes all over the place.
In addition, VanBuren keeps busy with his seven rental properties.
The only down-side of VanBuren retiring now is his wife still has to work 10 to 15 more years, which limits the time she can travel with him.
A reception will be held for VanBuren on Sunday.