PIEDMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - An East Bay elementary school honored a beloved crossing guard and community figure by naming part of an intersection after him.
The corner of Lake and Linda Avenues next to Beach Elementary in Piedmont is now known as “Arthur Ward Corner.”
On Tuesday, the entire K-5 school, teachers, parents and city leaders held a surprise celebration to honor Ward. The 79-year-old has been a crossing guard at the school for eight years.
Students held signs that read, “We love Arthur” and chanted his name as the sign on the corner was revealed.
“The honor is ours. We thank each and every one of you. We love each and every one of you," Arthur’s wife, Norma “Summer” Ward, said to the students. "This town is an amazing town. Each and every one of you have welcomed and loved us as much as we’ve loved you!” she added. Norma Ward is also a well-known figure at the school, as she frequently volunteers in the Kindergarten classes.
She said the celebration was a surprise to Arthur. He was honored by the Piedmont City Council on Monday night but had no idea there would be a party for him at the school.
“He didn’t know what was happening this morning,” Norma Ward said, “and he called and said you won’t believe what I’m seeing this morning!”
Arthur expressed gratitude to the Beach School community.
“I’ve come to work to make sure you kids cross safely... you kids are my number one concern,” Ward said. “The lord put me here for a reason. He knows my personality. Many mornings when I get up, I’m sore," he said as he and the adults in the crowd chuckled. "But the lord knows this is the place for me. Me being here is a blessing. I have learned a lot by being here. I love all of you,” the crossing guard continued.
Piedmont city officials said that Arthur Ward plans to retire at the end of next year that but the students and school wanted to have the sign up so he could see it while he’s still working and see the show of appreciation from the community.
“Arthur Ward is a unique individual in that he comes to Piedmont every day and takes care of the kids and the parents," said Piedmont Vice Mayor Teddy King, “He exemplifies the best of humanity. He is such a man of honor and that’s something that should be celebrated.”