Dale Easley and spooky crevices on campus

The other night, after dropping off Costco-sized boxes of food for cross country, I turned through the back gate to drop my friend off at her car. At a little past 8 pm, the street lights had flickered on and casted an eerie glow across campus. I had never traversed the campus at such an odd hour before. Goosebumps soon began rising on my arms. Maybe it was the Halloween season swiftly approaching, but I suddenly had a brand-new sense of gratitude for those on campus at that hour. I’ve always been thankful for the hands that keep the classrooms spotless, but I haven’t always been one hundred percent mindful. The hole-punch paper dots that spilled everywhere disappeared by the next day. The thermos of coffee that tumbled out of my hands on the top floor of Askew left has no trace the following morning. I journeyed over to the physical plant in hopes of meeting some of these hard-working people behind the disappearances of our daily teenage clumsiness.

Dale Easley greeted me with a friendly but firm handshake and welcomed me into his office. The facilities manager introduced Easley as “the perfect candidate” when I requested to speak with someone worthy of recognition and someone that could tell me some good, spooky stories around the campus. The “Employee of the Month” placard hanging by Easley’s desk and the gentle, goofy grin on his face seemed to confirm at least a portion of that claim.

“The wildlife on this campus is crazy!” exclaimed Easley when I broached the subject of spooky activity on campus. As he launched into a riveting tale of accidentally tossing the trash out onto two raccoons, he relayed a humorous, yet calm and collected, portrayal of the events. Next, he described the snake issue that was beginning to arise in the less traveled areas around campus.

“This is a wildlife preserve,” explained Easley, “so, I can’t be too controlling or upset.”

As our conversation progressed, it became clear why Easley was such a cool customer in the face of unexpected events: he is a veteran, in more than one way. Easley has been, as he words it, “with the Westminster family” for a little over two years now. He worked his way up from lower school maintenance, through the middle school, and recently took on the leadership position of supervisor of housekeeping. While we bonded over experiencing some turbulence early in our respective school years and transitional periods, he brings a unique background that he credits for both his work ethic and his ability to transition.

“Those three and a half years of service changed me,” reflected Easley, a former marine. “My work ethic, my outlook… there are some things you carry forever.”

The Lower School Veteran’s Day program has found a special place in Easley’s heart and he happily relayed anecdote after anecdote of fellow former service men he had encountered there. However, as he revealed later in the conversation, his two daughters play a large role in his success as well.

“If I’m going to unwind after work, I’m probably watching a scary movie,” said Easley, “Or I might playing a video game with my eleven-year-old.”

In the same minutes that he admitted that one of his biggest fears was spiders, Easley reflected that one of his favorite movies was The Conjuring 2. Further than likes and dislikes, Easley encompasses much weightier duality. He balances a serious, focused work ethic with a keen sense of humor. Our conversation ebbed and flowed between serious reflection and well crafted humor. He has incredible love for both his own blood family and his self-described “Westminster family.”

And he does something we are all trying to traverse currently: he finds the balance between his concentration on the present with his drive toward his goals for the future.

“I’ll open a few businesses,” professed the self-described jack-of-all-trades. “I want to take care of the homeless, first and foremost.” In addition to that goal, Easley aims to open his own industrial housekeeping service and a “feel good food” food truck.

“Flik lunches are pretty good” laughed Easley, “In all seriousness, I think I enjoy the diversity of people I get to interact with each day. I’m a people person!”

Easley eased my concerns with his conviction that the wildlife was the spookiest thing on the Westminster campus. And with Halloween coming up, he eased my anxieties about the occasional spooky vibes on campus. Easley is a confident member of the Westminster family. The careful balance that he strikes between diligent hard work and

“I love helping students. I’m always around. I’ll see you soon!”