Beloved Northwestern employee Gary Jeltema is retiring after 30 years of serving the school and its people.
For years, Jeltema has worked for the college as the supervisor of maintenance services helping with the mechanical and electrical services around campus. He is responsible for all the heating and cooling on campus and is in charge of all the fire safety systems, including the fire alarms. Jeltema says that this has been a great place to work, but that he is ready to give up the responsibilities and being called at all hours.
As he is in charge of all the fire alarms, he is also in charge of turning them off at the early hours of the morning. For those residents in Steganga who are dragged out of bed by the fire alarms, Jeltema is to thank for making the dorms livable again.
Grounds supervisor Ward Van Peursem says that it has been a great experience working with Jeltema, and that it is clear how dedicated Jeltema is to his job. Since Jeltema has been here for so long, he knows the ins and outs of the buildings and all the wiring.
“He will be deeply missed with his knowledge and history with the college,” Van Peursem said.
According to Van Peursem, Jeltema’s dedication to his job and to the school was very evident, as he spent a lot of time on campus, including late-night hours checking in on things, and even doing so on the weekends.
“He loves the students and loves the college,” Van Peursem said. “It would be hard to find anybody more dedicated to his job than Gary.”
Van Peursem is not the only one with good things to say about Jeltema. Scott Simmelink doesn’t work at NW anymore, but he worked here with Jeltema for close to 30 years, and prior to coming to the college they worked together for independent contractors.
“Gary is a great guy, very dedicated, always willing to come back to campus to help out whether it be with energy management or if something broke in the kitchen – just a great guy,” Simmelink said.
Simmelink also served with Jeltema on the fire department for over 25 years.
“He is a very dedicated citizen,” Simmelink said.
It is clear that both Simmelink and Van Peursem have glowing things to say about Jeltema from their time working with him.
However, it wasn’t just the other people that benefitted from Jeltema’s time at NW, but Jeltema himself benefitted as well.
He says that this school has been a great place to work, and that he enjoys the people he works with. Jeltema says he will miss being around all the people that he has gotten to know.
“I will miss the great students we have here on campus and the great people I have had to work with on campus and in the maintenance department,” Jeltema said. “They have become like family to me.”
This does not mean this is the last time Jeltema will see the people here that he has grown so close to.
Jeltema says he is going to stay around town after retiring because he has a granddaughter that attends NW. Still, he does hope to travel a little and would like to do some volunteer work. His last day of work is Friday, Oct. 4.