When Danvers resident Bob Palardy retired from his 22-year position as a custodian at in 2008, the students knew they were losing someone special. That year, the school's yearbook was dedicated to Palardy, a tree was planted in his honor, and the school's mascot, a dragon, was even named after him.
Now, for his patriotic example to students, and for his lifelong patriotism and respect for the country's veterans, the of the American Legion awarded Bob Palardy the annual Americanism Award on Feb. 9.
Palardy, a Holten High School graduate and longtime Danvers resident, is credited as a 'spark plug for patriotic activity' in the .
It was about 15 years ago, Palardy said, that he first got the idea to organize Memorial and Veteran's Day as times when veterans could come to the elementary school, mingle with the kids, share lunch with them, and answer questions.
"He epitomizes what we look for in an employee," Town Manager Wayne Marquis said. "Being a custodian is not an easy job - you have to please everybody. And I saw it first hand - the kids loved Mr. Palardy."
For Palardy, that was what it was all about.
Palardy said the reason he and the kids got along so well was simple. "I respected them," he said. "But I demanded respect back in return. I was rewarded and blessed many times over."
Now, while Palardy volunteers at the , he still makes his way back to Great Oak once in a while.
And when he does, Post Adjutant Bruce Eaton said "the kids flock to him like flies to sugar."
This was the third year Post 180 awarded Danvers residents for their patriotic efforts. Veteran and longtime Danvers police officer Jim George and Kary Andrinopoulos, co-owner of , received the Americanism Award the past two years.