Inside ECS: Willie Lee, Building Services

To hear Willie Lee’s laugh is to feel the comfort of an old friend. For over 34 years, Willie’s laugh has been heard through Elkhart Community Schools, through his role with the ECS building services team.

Willie’s story of his beginning at Elkhart Community Schools is one based on persistence. He’d heard positive things about working for the school system, so he applied for an open position in building services. After not hearing back, he decided to show his dedication and willingness to work hard by contacting the school every day until they hired him. His persistence paid off, and he continues to prove that the district made the right choice in hiring him.

Willie says his favorite part of working for the district is meeting all the different people. He says he came here for a job, but found a family. He says he’s pretty confident that after so many years in our schools, he knows everyone in Elkhart now.

He has many stories about his days with the district – enough to write a book, he says – but one story that always makes him laugh is when he recalls driving a backhoe across town to help with a frozen pipe during a particularly awful, blizzard-like day. He and his coworkers spent so much time outside that when they all walked inside, they jumped at the heat and immediately ran back outside. He says they all spent the rest of the day laughing about it.

Willie says he owes much of his continued success with the district to his bosses – Larry Slaughter, Milton Butler, and his current boss, Jeff Watson.

“He’s as close as you’ll find to an angel,” says Jeff. “Our entire department gives it their all, but with Willie, there’s a little something extra. He puts love and compassion into everything he does. He is always there for any of us – with work situations or outside of work, he’s always a listening ear.”

When he’s not working, Willie enjoys fishing, hunting, and bowling, though he wishes he had more time to do those activities. When asked if he was ready to retire fully, he says he’s not feeling it yet. He says he enjoys his job too much and feels good about spending time with the people he considers his family.