by Hayley Golden
Almost every Marian student, faculty member or visitor has seen the little green Prius driving around Marian. Although they prefer to stay out of the spotlight, the security men inside the Prius play an important role in the Marian community. With the help of the other maintenance men, these two help Marian thrive and flourish.
The men inside that little green car are Wayne Downie and Richard Hutfless. Combined, the two have been working at Marian for a total of 36 years.
Wayne, who had previously worked for Douglas County, found out about the job position through an advertisement in the newspaper.
“I worked 30 years for the Douglas County Health Department. They offered me an early retirement, and I took that. I had friends who had gone to work driving vans for Omaha Public Schools, so I did that and after about six months, I saw an ad for Marian looking for a van driver. So I came here,” Downie said.
Downie started the position in 1993, where he started off as a van driver. “I started out driving a van, and after three or four years, they quit the van service and started the security, and so I’ve been doing that ever since,” Downie said.
In addition to heading the security in the morning, Downie also watches over senior lunches.
Hutfless, who takes over the security position in the afternoon, started out working at a drug store for 13 years. “Started a quarter an hour, worked all the way up to a dollar and a quarter,” Hutfless said.
After this job, Hutfless worked at a bank for nine years, a gas station for 18 and K-Mart for 30 before retiring.
A few years later, Hutfless found out about the security job through a friend. “I met a friend of mine, who I met at St. Philip Neri when I was picking up my grandson, and he always picked up his kids, and he was maintenance manager here. He said ‘What are you doing for kicks?’ and I said ‘Nothing.’ ‘Wanna do something?’ I said ‘What?’ He said ‘We have an opening at Marian for an afternoon security person that drives around in the van and watches the parking lot.’ I said ‘Really? Okay, I’ll think about that.’ So I thought about it and when I was leaving he said ‘Call me if you’re interested,’” Hutfless said.
The next day Hutfless set up an appointment and got the job. “I never had any Marian connections, I was just in the right place at the right time,” Hutfless said.
With this position, Hutfless later encouraged his daughter to send his granddaughters here.
Through the years, both men have seen some very unusual sights around campus.
Hutfless in particular remembers a time when something spooky appeared at Marian during Freshman Retreat.
“It was Oct. 30 into the 31, which is Halloween, so, my shift was midnight to 5 in the morning. I was sitting out there, it was Halloween, and I’ve always said this is weird how Marian sits between the two cemeteries, the sisters’ cemetery and the Hope [cemetery] up there. This layer of fog formed over the soccer field, some five, ten feet off the ground and it covered probably two thirds of the soccer field, this flat layer of fog. This is on Halloween. And it just sat there for about an hour and then it lifted up and went over the cemetery, right over. I don’t know, I’ve always thought that was pretty weird,” Hutfless said.
Downey often used to see animals hanging out around the campus. “There used to be herds of deer that would be in the parking lot when I was working in the morning. I’ve seen a fox run across the parking lot in the morning, and of course, a multitude of turkeys,” Downey said.
Although both men have seen some eccentric occurrences, both Hutfless and Downie still love their jobs here at Marian. “The people here, the kids and the staff and the friendly atmosphere, that’s what I like the best. Everybody seems to get along,” Downie said.
With all that being said, it’s safe to say that the girls of Marian love having them around. Senior Elizabeth Brison has gotten to know Richard throughout her years at Marian.
“Richard’s so nice because he’s willing to just sit here all day after school, and he’s kind of like a grandpa to everyone. He’s always sweet and willing to help out,” Brison said.
For senior Michaela Steier, who had the Walk-a-Thon junior parking spot last year, Downey became a familiar face whenever a parking spot problem occurred. “I could always count on him to help me,” Steier said.
Neither Downie nor Hutfless have plans to retire anytime soon. “I like it here and I like my job, and unless they don’t want me anymore, I plan on staying here as long as I can,” Hutfless said.
“Not anytime soon. At my age you can’t tell how much longer it might be,” Downie said with a laugh.
Needless to say, the “van men” are an important aspect of Marian.
“They’re always willing to unlock a classroom, or if its cold, drive you down to your car. Little things like that,” Brison said. “They’re the people behind the scenes that keep Marian flowing. They’re always welcoming.”