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After 51 years, St. Benedict crossing guard retires: ‘This is a family for me’

‘I’m happy here and when you are happy, that is all that matters,’ said Roxie Calhoun, who takes one bus and two trains each way to get to work from her South Side home.

Crossing guard Roxie Calhoun
Crossing guard Roxie Calhoun has helped students and parents at Irving Park Road and Leavitt Street for 41 years.
Cindy Hernandez/Chicago Sun-Times

Roxie Calhoun takes two trains and a bus every morning from her South Side home to get to her post at Irving Park Road and Leavitt Street just in time to help students and parents cross the street on the way to school.

“The travel doesn’t bother me. I do it because I like my job,” said Calhoun, who catches a 5:30 a.m. train to be at her post by 6:45 a.m. She even goes home after her morning shift, returning before students get out in the afternoon.

Calhoun will retire at the end of June after 51 years as a crossing guard. For the past 41 years, she helped students of St. Benedict Preparatory School and Coonley Elementary School. Before that, she was stationed at nearby Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School for 10 years.

Five decades, three schools — all on the North Side.

“I could have transferred a long time ago, but I’m happy here, and when you are happy, that is all that matters,” Calhoun said.

“This is a family for me, and I’m happy, and I’m going to miss them, but it’s just time to go now,” she added.

“I hope whoever is my replacement cares about them like I did. I know the kids will be sad and it’ll take them a while to adjust, but if the person that replaces me is warm, then it’ll be OK.”

Crossing guard Roxie Calhoun
Roxie Calhoun on the job at Irving Park Road and Leavitt Street Wednesday afternoon. She’s retiring at the end of the month after 51 years as a crossing guard — 41 at this post.
Cindy Hernandez/Chicago Sun-Times

Friday at St. Benedict’s, Calhoun will receive the Crossing Guard of the Year Award.

As word of her retirement spread, students and parents wondered what their mornings and afternoons will be like after she is gone.

“It’s just not going to be the same,” Will Hauman, a fourth grader at St. Benedict, said.

Calhoun has helped Shalita Ativie and her four kids cross the street for more than seven years.

Even when the kids or parents are having a bad day, Calhoun always lightens their mood, Ativie said.

“For us, she’s a part of everybody’s family,” Ativie said.

“She taps into our happiness and makes sure that we are OK. You can’t help but notice her. I don’t know who can replace her, and I just hope it’s somebody as wonderful as her. I am really going to miss her.”

Calhoun has no set plans yet for what to do in retirement.

“I just need to take some time for myself,” she said.

Crossing guard Roxie Calhoun
Roxie Calhoun has helped students cross Irving Park Road for 41 years.
St. Benedict Preparatory School