For 34 years, there was no mistaking when 8:30 a.m. had arrived in Valentine Dining Hall. Every day at that time for more than three decades, Tony Spicer was completing his walk to work as a dishwasher. “I think that’s long enough,” Spicer said.
This May, the 54-year-old will make the walk for the last time as he prepares to retire from Lasell College.
Though his first year at Lasell was just after the infamous Blizzard of 1978, he still encountered countless rain and snowstorms on his daily walks to work from his home in Newton. “He’s an inspiration to me,” said Mairead VanHeest, General Manager of Dining Services. She is the last in a long line of supervisors Spicer has had and the only one to offer him a ride to work on particularly treacherous days.
Working largely unnoticed by the campus community, Spicer has been a constant at the receiving end of the blue conveyor belt that carries used dishes to be cleaned.
Spicer is one of few college employees who have been present for the vast majority of changes the campus has undergone. When he started, there was one food line for students and faculty. The dining room has tripled in size from Spicer’s first day to his last, with the addition of the Bragdon and 1851 rooms.
He observed the protests from female students as the college opened its doors to men for the first time. That change has been a generally positive one for the college, Spicer said. After he leaves, the college will continue changing, as the dining hall will be fully renovated this summer.
As an avid sports fan, Spicer said he would have enjoyed the new sports grill that will be erected in the 1851 room. There’s only one problem that he could envision arising from the new dining area, “Nobody will go to class,” he said.
Spicer’s love of sports, particularly all four Boston teams, is complimented by a love of traveling. He’s already visited the home parks of all four of the Red Sox’s AL East division rivals, along with a few trips to Las Vegas, Nev.
Sitting in Van Heest’s office with his last day approaching, Spicer asked if it would be okay for him to visit after retirement. Van Heest was happy to oblige. “Tony’s always been a good, hard worker,” she said. “He’s a true team player.”
The exercise he gets from walking to campus every day will be replaced by the exercise he plans to get from joining a Newton-based program for adults with disabilities. But, according to Van Heest, there will be no replacing Spicer in the kitchen.