BARRACKVILLE, W.Va. (AP) — As they pass by, some wave, or smile, or honk, or even stop to make small talk. Everyone seems happy to see him.

This October will mark 54 years that Sheldon Tennant, 75, has been serving the community through the West Virginia Police Reserves, many of those years as a school crossing guard.

"I put regular clothes on and people don't recognize me," Tennant, a lifelong resident of Mannington, joked.

A friend of Tennant's asked if he would be interested in joining the police reserves, and on Oct. 1, 1964 he started his career and in 1994 became chief.

He has a total of 18 other reserve officers that work with him.

Throughout the years he has helped the community in various ways through his work. He has provided assistance to state and federal law enforcement agencies on crime scenes, escorted singer Tex Ritter onto the stage at the Mannington Fairgrounds in 1966, and even provided assistance to first responders during the Number Nine Coal Mine disaster.

But he said his favorite part of the job has been serving at the schools, saying that there is a mutual respect and appreciation between himself and the students.

"I'm good friends with the kids, we have a good back and forth," Tennant said. "We talk and if they have a little bit of trouble I talk to them and try to get them through it and help them."

And the kids are appreciative as well, he said, never crossing the road without giving him a "thank you" or "good morning."

Tennant has served as North Marion's crossing guard for a number of years, and now also as Barrackville's for about the last three, though other officers of his worked Barrackville in the past.

"He is amazing," Barrackville Elementary School Principal Vicki Bombard said. "He keeps my kids safe, he keeps the parking lot safe ... He's irreplaceable is what he is."

Bombard added that he seems to really enjoy his work, and that the parents appreciate the job he does.

"It's made such a huge difference having him here," she said.

At 5:25 a.m., Tennant begins his day at North Marion High School, before heading over to Barrackville slightly before 8 a.m. He repeats this process in the afternoon when class let out.

Over the years, Tennant has met a lot of people. He said it's great getting to know them, and has even seen some grow to adulthood.

"It's nice to meet the kids and children I've had down through the years," Tennant said, adding that the work has been rewarding.

Outside of the police reserves, Tennant enjoys spending time with his wife of 53 years, three children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In fact, his wife, two children and two grandchildren are also in the police reserves.

"It's been a great life," Tennant said. "The good Lord has been good to me."


Information from: Times West Virginian,