INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Sandy Bellew couldn’t see for most of her life prior to becoming a crossing guard because of cataracts. Now the 87-year-old says she could have never envisioned how rewarding of a job it would be for 55 years.

Every day for 55 years, be it sun, rain or snow.

“Sometimes it’s been 40 below zero I think or that’s what it felt like,” Bellew said.

Bellew has been stationed outside Mill Creek Elementary School and Bryant Elementary.

“I really truly enjoy this job it’s not really a job it’s a fun thing as well. But it’s an important job,” Bellew said.

She says she’s progressed from helping the children of children she first helped safely cross the street back in 1968, to now walking their grandchildren. Close calls come a little more frequently now, Bellew says because of distracted drivers.

“When I almost got hit not too long ago driver rolled down his window and said ‘I’m sorry I didn’t see you’ and I thought, you didn’t see me?” Bellew said pointing to her stop sign and bright yellow vest.

She says she would have never considered retirement, if the blindness she was born with wasn’t coming back in the form of macular degeneration.

“I was planning on going until I couldn’t walk. If they’d let me walk with a cane I’d still be here,” Bellew said.

So today as she waited for Mill Creek dismissal, students surprised her with banners, cards and flowers.

“Miss Sandra, I’m your biggest fan,” one student told her.

“I’m going to miss you,” student after student said with a hug.”

“I’m going to miss you,” she replied to each.

Of course in the midst of the celebration, there’s still a job to do.

“OK let’s get out of the road, OK,” she said as each student tried to get a last few seconds with “Miss Sandy”

Safely across the street, she had time to soak in the messages,

“This means so much to me,” she said.
“It means so much to us when we see your happy face,” a student responded.

She also had time to laugh about the bell bottoms and paisley teachers wore Friday to remind her of the way students looked when she first walked kids across the road way back in 1968. A time long before the selfies all the kids want with their favorite crossing guard now.

Before they went the rest of the way home with their parents Bellew told the students, “I love you kids, all of you.’

She also offered advice to whoever inherits her vest and stop sign.

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“Just always smile be happy and be good to the kids, listen to them and be sure you watch them and hold them back,” she said.

Bellew greets her former walkers with a card every year at graduation. Inside there’s a compass she presents them. She explains it is so they can always find their way, even without her guidance.