IM this article to a friend!

October 9, 2005

YMCA sets reception for 40-year worker

From: The Saginaw News, MI - Oct 9, 2005


Roger L. Lukowski relaxes in the pool-side grill breaking from his rigorous routine. Everyone who passes by stops, waves and jokes with the well-liked janitor.

The 57-year-old Saginaw Township man has worked as a member of the YMCA maintenance team since December 1965.

Lukowski became deaf as a result of a high fever he developed as a child. He joined the Saginaw YMCA as a 12-year-old in 1960 and began working after school and during summers for the association at 17 while he attended Saginaw High School. He joined the staff full-time after graduating in 1968.

"Roger is a bull of a guy," said Steve Springsdorf, executive director of state YMCA and former Saginaw YMCA executive director. "Although he's deaf, he can read lips, and he understands what he needs to do."

The eyes of the YMCA have belonged to Lukowski.

"In 40 years, I have seen it all," he said.

Lukowski spent his first 12 years working at the Saginaw YMCA Camp in West Branch during the summers as its primary groundskeeper and maintenance worker.

"When I was about 20, I was walking across the footbridge over a 'no swimming' area, I noticed a girl drowning," Lukowski said. "I saw the lifeguards were busy, so I jumped in and rescued her."

During his career at the YMCA, Lukowski has taken an active role in getting to know the members.

"He's very friendly, and everyone knows him," said Dorothy Kaufmann, marketing and special events coordinator.

Lukowski often helps seniors reach their cars each day, Kaufmann said.

Lukowski gained the reputation as the internal bouncer among colleagues. He gets along well with the staff, and he would always protect them, said Max Fisher, retired associate executive director.

"Roger would stand right behind me when I would have to confront a resident," Springsdorf said. "He has a look that would make people more respectful."

Fisher said he asked Lukowski to accompany him once when he had to evict a resident.

"The resident made a lunge at me," Fisher said. "Roger pinned the man faster than you could shake a stick."

He keeps everything running smoothly, Kaufmann said. "He is an awesome and dependable person."

Colleagues host a 40th anniversary celebration honoring Lukowski at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the YMCA, 1915 Fordney. v

Megan Frounfelter is a staff writer for The Saginaw News. You may reach her at 776-9716.

© 2005 Saginaw News.