Remembering Larry Rivers
by Juan Lachapelle | published Dec. 10th, 2013
Larry Rivers worked as a custodian on the residential side of campus for over 10 years, making sure the halls were clean, rooms were tidy and trash was disposed of properly. He sometimes assisted in repairs of equipment due to his background in carpentry and plumbing. He was recently promoted to career custodian and aimed to become a senior custodian. He passed away on November 20 at the age of 56 due to failing health.
Rivers was known to his superiors and co-workers as a congenial and charismatic person, always able to make others smile and lighten up a room. Beyond working in Gibson and Nathaniel Rochester Hall, he assisted in cleaning the offices of Resnet and Residential Life. Even after being assigned to other buildings, he always came back to those offices to help or just say hi. John Killings, foreman of custodian services on the eastside of campus, and Maureen McGrath, Rivers’ supervisor for two years, remembered Rivers’ strong work ethic and willingness to help out when needed. He was never known to complain. “Whenever service dropped over there [Resnet], Larry was quick to just go over and help them” said McGrath.
“Life wasn’t easy for Larry,” said McGrath. “He had lost his license, he had a lot of child support so he had no money usually and his health was failing.” In spite of it all, he did not resent his situation and held a strong love for his family and all eight of his children.
Because candy and coffee were Rivers’ favorite treats, the staff at Resnet and Residential Life always made sure to have a cup or a piece of chocolate for him to help brighten up his day. Len Levaskevich, a fifth year Information Technology major and Resnet student manager, said he was grateful for Rivers’ work in cleaning their office, making sure they had everything they needed and simply interacting with him and the other Resnet workers.
“Usually when he came through, we were really nice and hospitable to him just for his service,” said Lebaskevich. “We’d give him a cup of coffee and just overall talk about what he’s doing at FMS to lighten up his workload.” He fondly remembered having Rivers in Resnet’s office during the summer for breaks as part of the team that cleans out the residences halls for the next year of students.
Mary Brand, Senior Staff Assistant at the Center of Residence Life, knew Rivers as the FMS custodian for the office. Besides cleaning and picking up trash, he would often drop by to just say hi. “He would come through to pick up the trash, more so he came through to share a smile and see everybody,” said Brand. Many of the student workers also knew him by first name and had conversations.
Up until his passing, Rivers was always in contact with his superiors and the staff at the offices to see how they were doing and to thank them for being there. Resnet plans to have the break room he usually stayed in dedicated in his name with a plaque. His years of service and dedication will not be forgotten in the halls he worked. “He touched so many lives,” said Brand. “I don’t think Larry realized it, I don’t really truly think he knows how many people will truly miss him.”