The People of Physical Plant

March 8th, 2016

physical plant employees

Of the 27 EMU physical plant employees in this photo, 17 (63 percent) have two-year college degrees or better. Five employees have masters degrees or are working toward a masters. Many are the parents of EMU students. The class year is given for those who earned their degrees at EMU.

On observatory steps, left to right, from top step down: Tom Martin ’85, Miriam Hill ’92, Nevin Bender Sr. ’61, Annie Thompson, Loretta Helmuth ’75, Kim Yoder, Betty Lee, Josh Brubaker ’06, Roger Pultz, Jonathan Lantz-Trissel ’00. Leaning on truck, from left: Doug Blyer ’99, David Emswiler ’89, Tony Brenneman. Standing on ground before observatory, from left: Ed Lehman, Lewis Driver, Diann Harman, Lowell Guengerich, Teresa Puckett, Will Hairston, Stella Knicely, Matt Hunsberger ’02. Seated, from left:Daniel Patterson ’03, Eldon Kurtz ’76, Mary Parakuo, Linden Rhodes, Julie Hottinger ’74, Evie King ’74. Missing from this photo: Pam Arbogast; Lora Baker; Arnie Driediger; Julie Lake; Judy Townsend; Jean Ndayizigiye, MA ’00; Lynn Veurink.

The 34 or so people behind EMU’s well-run, well-maintained buildings and grounds tend to be interesting folks. Some stories behind current and recent employees:

evelyn king

Evelyn King ’74, supervisor of custodial staff, does studies on EMU’s choices of carpets, furnishings and cleaning agents. The carpet placed in the Commons, for example, has resisted stains much better than earlier carpets purchased. Why? Because King stain-tested carpet samples, using oil, ketchup, soda and cream-and-sugar-loaded coffee. She ensured that the carpet selected for the Commons would clean well and not need replacing too-soon. King is also behind EMU’s shift to using a green-certified, biodegradable cleaning solution.


Will Hairston, supervisor of grounds, has played a leading role in “Coming to the Table,” a movement to encourage interaction and reconciliation between the descendants of slave-owners and the descendants of slaves. (Visit

Danny Sholl

Dan Stoll, electrical service supervisor for 12 years, said “we’ve got to do better than that” in 2000 when he saw the lights budgeted for the president’s reception room above the main entrance to the Commons. “We have this wonderful window,” he said. “It needs something hanging up there that will catch your eye from the street.” Stoll, who died of a heart attack in 2002, donated $3,000 to top off the fund for light fixtures, enabling the university to purchase a brass chandelier that Stoll picked out.


Jean Ndayizigiye, MA ’00, Campus Center custodian, has a masters degree in conflict transformation from EMU and is a state-certified family mediator. He was a civil engineer in his home country of Burundi before he fled to the United States to escape ethnic-based persecution.


Nevin Bender Sr. ’61 holds a masters in divinity from Hartford Seminary and is a former bishop in the Mennonite church. A stroke caused Bender to shift from intellectual labor to physical labor as a grounds worker. The stroke also affected his balance (he wears a bike helmet to protect himself from falls while working). But the stroke did not affect his work ethic and unfailingly positive outlook on life. (NOTE: Nevin retired in April, 2008 after 25 years as an associate in servanthood performing many of the hardest, least glamourous jobs on campus. “Nevin’s passionate faith, intense work ethic and model of service have been an inspiration to all,” said his colleague, Will Hairston.)

Comments are closed.