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Ronnie Retires

Brooke Perisho and Brenden McMullen

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Nashoba operates like a machine. There are aspects that everyone sees and interacts with, such as students, teachers, and administrators. However, there are those who are hidden in the shadows. They do not receive awards, attention, or prestige, but without them, the school would fall apart.

One of these people is a crucial member of the janitorial staff: Ronnie Bergwinkel. Last Friday, the school bid him farewell as he retired from his role as part of the night janitorial staff. Bergwinkel is one of the most interesting people to have ever walked the halls of Nashoba and contributed to school’s hidden identity. Bergwinkel is quite the multifaceted character. He is an unsung hero at Nashoba, but also a real hero in the sense that he fought in the Vietnam War. He is also an incredible father and husband.

Bergwinkel, being a Vietnam veteran, has stories like no other and regails all his companions with them.  Vietnam has had a shocking impact on a plethora of people, but Ronnie was particularly affected. Bergwinkel was sprayed in the face with Agent Orange while in service. Agent Orange is an herbicide used in warfare that is attributed to severe health issues. Allegedly, this contamination has led to some of his health problems. However, even with all these issues, Ronnie is able to be an amazing father and husband to his son Ronnie Jr. and his wife, Terry.

 He still uses his experiences in Vietnam today; he loves to hunt. Known for being able to shoot extremely effectively with a bow, he has fantastic aim. Instead of hunting for sport, he only hunts for food and eats everything he kills.

 He was not just the night custodian her; he touched the lives of everyone he encountered. Wesley Rivera, a senior, was particularly affected by Ronnie’s presence at Nashoba. “I will miss his personality and his laugh  that you can recognize from anywhere,” Rivera says.

Wesley met Ronnie during the summer between freshman and sophomore year, when they worked together as full-time janitors. He remembers fondly how Ronnie showed him the ropes and how comfortable he was with him. He then elaborated that Burgwinkle is “the kind of man whom one could share everything with.”

Another person who has nostalgic memories of Burgwinkle is Mrs. Nicoll, the high school secretary. Mrs. Nicoll stated that Burgwinkle was “the man who touched everyone’s life.” She recounted that “he would help anyone at any time for any reason.” These actions included bringing in ice cream sundaes to her and Mrs. Hilliger (NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR THIS POSITION) or jumping a fellow colleague’s car.

They mentioned how he was “the king of buffing floors” and his supervisor, Mike, stated how he was amazing with the machinery. These expertises were gained while he worked in janitorial services at another company for multiple years before coming to Nashoba.

Ronnie’s retirement party.

His presence here was just a retirement job, but he stayed here for over ten years. His amazing performance needed to be celebrated. The administration arranged a retirement party, but Bergwinkel only expected a few staff members and fellow janitors to attend. When he arrived at the party, it was quite a surprise. The entire Nashoba Regional High School staff, as well as the janitorial staff from the entire district were in attendance. There was an enormous cake along with coffee and lemonade. A couple people in the faculty then volunteered to say a couple of words about Ronnie Bergwinkel. These people included Mrs. Hilliger, Mrs. Lowe, Mrs.d’Entremont, and Mr.Cote.

 Mrs. d’Entremont explained how she and Ronnie had a running joke about how whiteboards are not actually white because they are full of smudges left over from the markers. One day, she walked into class and found a cleaning cloth that Bergwinkel purchased and gave to her because this cloth left fewer smudge marks than paper towels.

 These were the type of random acts of kindness this man did for other people. Bergwinkel was not just a janitor, here at Nashoba, he was something much more. He was a friend, a father, a husband, and a veteran. There will be a void without him. We give Burgwinkle our best wishes and hope he lives a long and happy life.

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