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Retiree: From crossroads to crossing guard

Walter Whitehead, 83, has been the crossing guard

Walter Whitehead, 83, has been the crossing guard on the corner of Ralph and Park Avenues in Babylon Village for 21 years. Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Babylon has endured its share of cold spells and heat waves during the past 21 years. And Walter Whitehead has been outdoors through it all, keeping the village’s youngest residents safe.

Whitehead, 83, works as a crossing guard at the corner of Park and Ralph avenues, in front of Babylon Memorial Grade School. He has been helping the district’s kindergarteners through sixth-graders cross the sometimes treacherous street since well before a certain Newsday community journalist attended the school.

“You’re helping kids every day. You’re helping people every day,” Whitehead said.

He began his working life at 17, stationed in Washington, D.C., as a Navy radio technician during World War II. When the war ended, he worked for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring at 52.

“I just didn’t know what to do with myself,” Whitehead said of having so much free time.

After six years of going stir crazy, Whitehead became a crossing guard at the suggestion of a friend and became a part of the school community.

Last year a class from the school wrote a story about how Whitehead pulled a student away  from a speeding driver. He keeps a copy of the story in his car, bringing it to work with him every day.

Whitehead said he'll be the crossing guard at the corner of Ralph and Park until he can’t stand anymore.

“I like it, and the kids are all good,” Whitehead said. "They’re all great.”

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