By Liz Verley, Staff Writer
“I can’t think of one thing I would change about my time at the Royalton Schools,” said Bill Sobania, the district’s supervisor of building and grounds. “The schools have been good to me.”
After 41 plus years with the district, Sobania has decided it is time to retire and begin working on his honey-do list. He said, “Forty-one years, it is pretty long. I have one and Vicki (his wife) has one. I haven’t decided which one I will start on first.”
He will retire June 30.
Sobania graduated from Royalton High School in 1972 and began his duties right after.
The favorite part of his job was the people he worked with. “I will miss the people I worked with more than the work. I enjoyed working with the teachers, staff and kids,” said Sobania.
“Bill ran all the time,” said Audrey Goedderz, third grade teacher at the Elementary School. “He hustled from the day I met him. He never walked. He did so many things for us. Bill could build and fix anything and he was quick and always friendly. We will certainly miss him.”
Superintendent Dr. John Ellerbusch said, “I believe Mrs. Cimenski’s explanation of Bill’s support of her as a theatre adviser best generalizes his daily contributions and support to our students, staff and families. She shared her special requests for the school play and the difficulty it was sometimes for Bill and the custodial staff. Instead of complaining or displaying a negative eye roll, Bill just gave her a big smile and helped as needed.”Searching his memory for the worst part of his job over the years, Sobania said,
“It was the cold weather when we had to shovel coal to keep the boilers going and removing the ashes. It was great when we went to natural gas.”
The biggest change in duties was the technology.
“I don’t know what I would do today without my Smart Phone. I used to play a lot of phone tag with staff and suppliers,” he said.
Sobania began his duties at the elementary school cleaning on the 10 a.m to 6 p.m. shift. There were four employees in the department at that time. Two at each school. There are now eight employees. He took over the duties as supervisor of the department in 1999.
Sobania’s wish list of equipment for his department would include a fork lift or Bobcat. “We move a lot of things and it could be used for maintenance outside. It would also be helpful to have a loading dock at each school, but especially at the high school. And of course storage. We have lost a lot of that to the need for classroom space,” he said.
Inside, he added, it would be nice to have a riding vacuum for each school. “The hallways get very long each night following the present sweepers.”
“Bill came to work every day with energy and a positive attitude. He said he needed to retire because of losing step and less energy. In my own observation his loss of a step is still above most people’s 100 percent,” Ellerbusch said.
“When I heard Bill Sobania was retiring after 41 plus years of service, I was saddened. He has always been someone the school district could and did rely on. I cannot recall a situation where Bill was without a smile on his face. He has always strived to make the Royalton school district a school of choice,” said Michelle Carlson, board chair.
“Bill is an inspiration and a role model. One could only wish that everyone were as hardworking and focused. On behalf of the Royalton School District and from me personally, I wish Bill all the best in retirement. Thank you for 41 plus years of continuous hard work; you will be missed,” said Carlson.
“Bill’s resignation letter is the best one I’ve ever received in my 15 years as a school administrator,” said Ellerbusch. “It is very apparent he really cared for the students. And they were treated and looked after by him as though each one of them were his own children or grandchildren. Bill’s resignation letter also showed his great pride in the school system and being a Royal.”
“We all wish Bill a very happy retirement. His contributions to the schools these past 41 years will never be forgotten by those of us who had the pleasure of working with him,” said Ellerbusch
Sobania said in his retirement letter, “The Royalton School System had given me life experiences for 41 plus years and beyond. Graduating from the Royalton High School in the spring of 1972 and being hired in that same fall at the elementary, essentially, I never left school.
“Working in the Elementary was an awesome place to be. All the munchkins running around hoping to be noticed by saying ‘hi’ to you and the friendliness of the teaching staff made it feel like a second family.
“Being offered the position I am currently in, made me step out of my comfort zone. That is, taking on more responsibility and those adolescent bodies at the high school. Which after a little while, didn’t seem so bad after all. “RHS Rocks.”
“With all that being said and with a lot of reservation, I am asking for your acceptance of my retirement. I feel like I am starting to run out of steam and this position needs someone who can give 100 percent to the job. I am thankful to the administration, School Board, teaching staff, paraprofessionals, cooks, custodial staff, and oh yes, all the kids. It has been one fantastic ride.”
Sobania’s resignation was read at the graduation ceremony in May, where the community, staff and students honored him with a standing ovation.
Sobania married Vicki in 1981 and they have two children, son Christopher and daughter Angela, both graduates of Royalton High School. The Sobanias have six grandchildren including one set of twins.
Vicki said, “I can’t wait for his retirement. I am excited. I have my honey-do list ready but this will give us the chance to enjoy our grandchildren more and hopefully do some traveling.”
The Sobanias are looking forward to their annual two-week camping trip to Two Harbors with their children and families.
Going into retirement, besides his honey-do lists, Sobania hopes to get in some fishing and expand their camping experiences.
Sobania is spending his last few weeks on the job getting everything in order for his successor. He said, “It took me a long time to make this decision. I am not that old but, I want to retire now when I want to and not when I have to. I know there is someone out there that will step up and do a good job for the district.”
His parting words to the community are, “Please pass the building levy that will be coming up. I don’t think most taxpayers realize what it is like here. We need the space.”