Jeffery Primary crossing guard has been on the job for more than five decades
Every weekday morning, Ruth Murdy adorns a white shirt, a pale green vest and black pants and heads to Jeffery Primary School in Glenshaw to start an hour-long crossing guard shift.
She has kept the same routine for more than 50 years.
Murdy, 85, said she applied for the school crossing guard position because it was near her Shaler residence, and the 8 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. shifts also provided adequate time for her to spend raising her children: Ruth Anne Messina, Kimberly Ivill and Debbie Sees.
Holding a stop sign, Murdy watches over the Wetzel Road-Vollmer Drive intersection.
“I've never had rude parents or rude people; it's a nice neighborhood where I'm at,” she said.
A North Side native, Murdy attended the old Allegheny High School. She and her late husband of 64 years, George, moved to Glenshaw in 1963.
“We liked Shaler,” she said. “Everybody's so nice. I have some friends in Shaler. That's how we got out here.”
Murdy said she hasn't sought employment elsewhere because she enjoys engaging with the local families through her current job.
“I get along with kids. It's just amazing seeing them grow up,” she said.
Emily Madigan of Glenshaw recalls the crossing guard's impact on her the day John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
“I recall a lot of confusion at the end of the day,” said Madigan, a fifth-grader at the time. “Students and teachers were upset — they didn't know right away if he was living. As we walked up the sidewalk, Ms. Ruth was there to guide us, acting as our surrogate parent for the moment, making sure we were OK and consoled.”
Madigan has had two of her own children use Murdy's crosswalk.
“I often think of how much times have changed over the decades and how she has remained a constant fixture of stability over the years,” said Madigan.
Others feel the same about her.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have such dedicated school crossing guards supporting our students, especially Ruth,” said Sean Aiken, Shaler Area School District superintendent. “She has touched the lives of countless students with her smile and friendly interactions each day as she makes sure they arrive to and from school safely.”
In addition to her Jeffery Primary position, Murdy provides guidance to the township's 10 school crossing guards. For more than 25 years, she also has served as a Kiwanis Park security guard, stationed at the playground during the summer.
Shaler Township Police Department Lt. Sean Frank has known Murdy for more than 25 years.
“Ruth is a very friendly person and interacts very well with students and parents. We are very fortunate to have Ruth as a school crossing guard serving the Shaler Area School District and Shaler Township.”
Murdy plans to retire when Jeffery Primary closes, likely next year, and its students relocate to the new Scott Primary School. She will use her free time to play bingo at Undercliff Volunteer Fire Company and visit her daughters in Arizona and Oklahoma.
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.