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'I feel truly blessed': University of Windsor employee celebrates 50 years on the job

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A big milestone was celebrated for an employee at the University of Windsor on Tuesday: 50 years of work, and counting.

Roger Rivard started working in facilities services at the university on May 21, 1974 when he was 21 years old.

“I feel truly blessed,” said Rivard, who marked the occasion surrounded by colleagues.

He remarked that when he started, “the campus was a lot smaller.”

The University of Windsor at that time had about 10 buildings on campus.

Rivard was hired on as an estimator and eventually would work his way up to project administrator.

Now, his fingerprints are all across campus on the 30 or so buildings that have been erected since he started.

“I do it for them,” he said of students and faculty who call the university home. “To try and make sure jobs get done properly and that they have further use in the long run for everybody on campus to enjoy.”

When Rivard started, John Francis Leddy was the university president.

Rivard’s go-to tools of the trade were a drafting board and his trusty mechanical pencil and sharpener, which still sit at his desk today.

But now, he admits most of his work is done at a computer.

“Instead of using the hands, I’m using the mind a little more,” he said.

His mind is a much coveted asset in the office at facilities services, according to coworkers.

“I'm actually kind of fearful for the day that he actually says he's going to retire,” said Emmeline Ventimiglia, who is also a project administrator. “Just because a lot of things that he knows is not written down on paper. It's not on a drawing. It's not on an electronic file anywhere. It's in his head. And he remembers a lot.”

“Roger has been very dedicated employee, he's very meticulous in his work,” added Dan Castellan, the manager of facility planning, renovation and construction. He’s worked alongside Rivard for 38 years. “He looks at all the details and has wealth of knowledge on the campus.”

Rivard is the father to eight kids, an equal number of grandkids and has two great-grandchildren, where he said he’s learned the fine art of lifelong learning, the power of volunteerism and getting along.

“We're all on the planet here for a reason. So it's a matter of learning to get along with one another,” Rivard said.

At 71, retirement is around the corner some time this year, but Rivard said he’s never lost sight of why he does this work.

“The real reason I'm here is for the students. And in the order of students, faculty, and then the staff,” he said. “Without the students, none of us would have jobs, and without a faculty they wouldn't be pushing the students in and out of this place.”

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