After twenty-five years at THHS, custodian Luis Perez retires

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This month, handyman and custodian Luis Perez is retiring from Townsend Harris High School.

Mr. Perez said, “The whole 25 years were great. I can’t complain. I had a good time here. No complaints at all, it was just a good time. I wish everybody could have a job like this, where you enjoy coming to work and you’re not tired of it. It’s just that it’s my time to go, you know. Time to take it easy.”

As the custodial staff member responsible for routine repairs throughout the building, Mr. Perez was in charge of ensuring that everything ran smoothly in the building. Students may have regularly encountered him during their time at Townsend Harris, especially if they were having trouble with opening their locker.

Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee called Mr. Perez a “lockmaster.” She said, “He can pick locks and there’s hundreds of file cabinets…Before we clipped a lock, I always sent Luis to clip the lock but he would always try to pick it first so that we would save the lock.”

In a previous article published by The Classic in 2013, Mr. Perez recalled some highlights of his career, one of which being a senior prank. He said, “Ten years ago, the seniors let chickens out as a senior prank and we had to chase them. We finally caught them and brought them to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.”

Several faculty members expressed their feelings about Mr. Perez’s retirement.

Staff member Paul Sforza said, “He’s a really funny guy. I could confide in him, and I will miss him. I’m not sure if we could really replace him. He was a really good friend.”

Custodian Mario Vasquez said, “Well, I love the guy. I’ve been with him for twenty nine years plus. Whenever there was a problem or something, he would figure out a way to do it or create something.”

Assistant Principal of Humanities Rafal Olechowski said, “If he has something to say to a student, he says it in a way that is non-threatening…It’s a cool event when I see him. The range of things we would talk about? Huge. [He was] always mild-mannered.”

“He’s going to be missed, but he’s going to have a new chapter in his life, so I’m happy for him,” said head custodian Hector Benitez. “Not too many people can actually live to say that they’re retiring, so it’s a good thing. It’s sad and good at the same time. It’s sad because you’re going to miss him after being with him for so many years.”

Prior to arriving at THHS, Mr. Perez served in the military. He joined the Air Force at age 17 in 1967 as a way to stay along the right path. After serving for four years in the Vietnam War, he left service in 1971.  

After retirement, Mr. Perez plans to embark on a cross country trip with his wife. 

After twenty-five years at THHS, while many students may remember him for help with their lockers, still more have fond memories of his kind nature. Class of 2014 alumna Asia Acevedo said, “Luis was a warm presence in the THHS hallways; you could always count on him for a bright smile between classes or a good belly-laugh after school.”

Photo by Kari Iocolano, Classic Photo Editor 2014-2015