(February 3, 2006) -- With Long Beach police brass and rank and file officers, community well-wishers and family present to honor her accomplishment, LB Crossing Guard Mary Ray, 81, capped 36 years of service in helping LB children walk safely to and from school.
Gathering at ELB's Willow St. at San Vicente Ave. -- one of multiple locations where Ms. Ray performed crossing guard duties -- Deputy Police Chief Robert Luna congratulated her for over a third of a century's work well-done:
"We are here to pay tribute to Mary...All of us who wear the uniform or work for the City are so proud of what we do, so when we see somebody like this who's leading by example, we look up to her and say 'Wow!...What an inspiration.'...On behalf of Chief Batts and all the men and women of the Long Beach Police Department, thank you so much for everything you've done, not only for the Department but for the City."
The crowd cheered when Deputy Chief Luna remarked that countless people had crossed safely because Ms. Ray was on duty...and Ms. Ray replied, "I tried to do my best."
Asked to say a few more words, Ms. Ray (a LB resident since 1945) thanked everyone for coming and said "I don't feel I deserve this but I appreciate it." Deputy Chief Luna said, "You deserve this and much more."
Among those attending were Ms. Ray's daughter and two sisters.
At the crowd's request, Ms. Ray showed how she safely took Prisk Elementary School students across nerve-wracking Willow St. between Bellflower and Woodruff (where students use a pedestrian tunnel under the 405 freeway to reach the school).
And they made it safely back on the return trip.
Prisk Principal Naomi Blackmore stopped by personally to thank Ms. Ray for her work.
Thank you for your public safety service, Ms. Ray...and enjoy your well-earned retirement.