Groundsman gets kudos from Newton residents

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

He's on the job at 7:15 each weekday morning, cruising the Newton Campus in a motorized cart filled with rakes as he tends his prized perennials and Japanese maples.

"The freshmen who return here each day feel they're getting away from the city and coming home to the country," said groundskeep - er George Thompson. "I like to keep that atmosphere. I'm very proud of this place."

To the Newton neighbors who pass by on their morning walks to nearby Edmands Park or who visit the campus chapel for daily Mass, Thompson is a goodwill ambassador for BC.

"He's your unsung hero at the Law School campus," said neighborhood resident Richard Saltzberg. "George has pride in making the campus look like a showcase for the community. I honestly feel the campus grounds have never looked better.

"I see George working very hard each morning and he manages to give everyone a pleasant greeting," added Saltzberg. "Our neighbors feel George serves as a terrific public relations person for the college and community."

Groundskeeper George Thompson: "I like people."

Since being assigned to the Newton Campus three years ago, Thompson has planted and nurtured the beds of mums and geraniums, perennial shrubs and four Japanese maples that have brightened the grounds by the Law Library and the Jesuit residence at Barat House.

The amiable groundskeeper also served as a sounding board for neighbors during the recent controversy over the construction of a new soccer field on the Newton Campus grounds. "It felt good for them to have someone from BC understand how they were feeling," Thompson recalled.

"I like people," said the Brighton-reared Vietnam veteran and father of four (including two College of Advancing Studies students). "If you look them straight in the eye and say, 'How are you doing today?' and really mean it, they respect that.

"My dad always told me, 'Be proud of what you do and what you say and who you are. It will always reflect back on you in a positive way.' Whether you're sweeping the streets or planting a Japanese maple, be proud of what you do.

"I take a lot of pride up here," Thompson said. "But it's not only me, it's the whole outfit - my boss Jamie Slattery, and crew members like 'Smokey' Hoffman, Jeff Marques, Bobby Scanlon, Mark Dalton, Victor Dias, Kenny DeGrazia, 'Colonel' Steve McGrath and Jack Coleman. They all have a great outlook on keeping the atmosphere for students as pleasant and eye-appealing as possible. And Law School Associate Dean Mike Cassidy and a dministrative c oordinators Joan Manna and Patricia Parlon have been super in their support of landscaping. It's like a family here."

Thompson is also active outside of BC. He volunteers as a mentor in a North Reading boot-camp program for at-risk teens, and is active in St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Woburn.

His future plans for the Newton Campus include a garden dedicated to the Blessed Mother at St. Mary's House and new flower beds at one side of the chapel, where he hopes to clear several evergreens that now block sunlight to the stained-glass windows.

"I can light up the chapel," Thompson mused, "as the good Lord has lit up my life. He's been very good to me."

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