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Dodgeville students celebrate custodian’s 50-year career

Weeks before his retirement, elementary school students and staff are honoring Ernie Leuthold’s dedication to the district.
Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 8:44 PM CDT
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DODGEVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - A Dodgeville school custodian is getting ready for retirement after half a century of service. In honor of his 50-year career, students and staff gave him a send-off to remember.

Custodian Ernie Leuthold has spent the last five decades keeping Dodgeville Elementary School clean, frequently working nights.

“That deserves some celebration,” said Diane Baryenbruch, who spearheaded the various celebrations for Ernie. Baryenbruch added, “[Ernie] has a big smile, he’ll do anything for anybody, he has a heart of gold.”

On the verge of Leuthold’s retirement, students, staff and alumni are repaying him for his dedication to generations of Dodgeville kids.

“We’ve decorated bulletin boards throughout the school recognizing Ernie and celebrating him,” Baryenbruch described.

Weeks before his retirement, elementary school students and staff are honoring Ernie Leuthold’s...
Weeks before his retirement, elementary school students and staff are honoring Ernie Leuthold’s dedication to the district.(WMTV/Sanika Bhargaw)

Through the month of May, elementary school students tried to make sure Leuthold knew how much he is appreciated, gifting him Coke, chocolates and candy. Leuthold was also given a VIP parking spot for the rest of the year.

“He goes throughout the building, showing everybody, ‘Look what the first graders did, look what the kindergarteners did,’” Baryenbruch explained.

The celebrations culminated Tuesday in a special mayoral proclamation declaring June 1, 2021 to be Ernie Leuthold Day in Dodgeville.

The fire department also escorted Leuthold in a parade across the district, with students at all three schools coming out to cheer for him. Some retired teachers also lined the streets.

“I was quite busy waving,” Leuthold said, laughing.

For Leuthold, his job has always been about the kids, and he said it is overwhelming seeing them celebrate and support him

“I had a lot of sick days built up, but as long as the kids were here, I was going to be here. I was not going to take those sick days,” he explained.

As for his retirement plans, Leuthold will keep supporting the school district, this time from the sidelines. For years, Leuthold has been a fan of Dodgeville’s cross country athletes, and he plans to attend more sports games with the extra time on his hands.

“This year, I’ll be able to watch football, where I normally couldn’t because I was working at nights,” Leuthold explained.

Elementary school students have a few more celebrations planned for Leuthold in June. His last day will be June 30.

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