From retail to a mop pail: Davie High custodian earns respect

Published 9:04 am Friday, March 29, 2024

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Bob Bailey had it pretty good.

He had been saved by the Lord at age 42, and gotten a job as a Hobby Lobby manager.

It was a good life, but something was missing.

He’s been the head custodian at Davie County High School for the past nine years. Even at age 74, he has no plans to slow down. He’s also a school bus and activity bus driver.

“As long as I am healthy and feel that the Lord is leading me, I’ll be here,” he said. “As long as I know I have a purpose here, I’m going to carry on.”

And yes, his job has changed. After Covid, the school system couldn’t find enough custodial workers, so those who work at the high school are on contract. Mr. Bailey is the only county employee on the high school custodial staff.

It’s quite a job as there are 335,000 square feet of building space, spread out over the campus.

“Basically, my job is keeping the school clean, and doing some minor repairs,” Bob said. “My goal here is to be an advocate for the students and the staff to meet all of their needs. That’s my main focus.”

He doesn’t hear the jokes that are too often aimed at custodial workers. Davie students, he said, are respectful.

“I have a great rapport with the staff and the students. I have so many friends now who are high school and college age. Most of these kids are really good, and they treat me with a lot of respect.

“It’s been wonderful and very rewarding.”

Bailey is the advisor for the Heroes for Hope, a Christian-based service club at Davie High.

And while at the school every day, the job entails much more. There’s quite a mess after a football game, and Bailey heads the Saturday morning crew that gets it all cleaned up. The same goes for most after-school activities.

Bailey’s service to young people doesn’t stop there.

His father was a pastor, so Bailey wasn’t unfamiliar with Christianity. But he didn’t embrace it until age 42, after years of suffering through addictions.

“I had the knowledge in my head, but it wasn’t in my heart. Then God miraculously saved my life. By God’s grace, I got through it.”

He and wife Diana started House of Hope Piedmont, a residential ministry to help troubled teen girls get their lives back on track. (He’s the head custodian there, too.).

But most days, you’ll find Bob Bailey at Davie High, wearing that bright orange (school color) hat with the cross in one corner.

“Having been in retail for so many years, I discovered that my purpose was here, my purpose in life was here.

“If it’s where God wants you to be, it’s going to be fufilling.”