CANTON — Carl E. Hull has been taking care of buildings at St. Lawrence University for the past 53 years.
Last Friday, the 75-year-old turned in the janitorial keys he's carried for more than five decades working as a custodian on a campus that's expanded to more than 60 buildings.
The life-long Russell resident is believed to hold the record for being the longest-serving employee at SLU, according to university officials.
Mr. Hull is proud of that accomplishment.
"I started May 22, 1957 and I've been here ever since," he said. "Finally, I just made up my mind that this was going to be it. It's not that I can't work any longer, I just want to get out and enjoy the rest of my life."
On his last day, his co-workers from the facilities department surprised him with a pizza party at Appleton Arena. They sent him off with a card and money gift.
Since 1970, Mr. Hull has been assigned to clean the university's fieldhouse and fitness center, making him a familiar face with students, athletes, faculty and community members alike.
"He's always taking care of this place as if it were his own," said William R. Murphy, a Canton resident who frequents the college's fitness center. "He's an institution here."
Mr. Hull said whether he was cleaning windows, mopping floors or getting a gymnasium ready for a basketball game, he was always meticulous about his work.
"I've enjoyed most of it," he related. "I was brought up to do a job right, or don't do it at all. I always took pride in my work and felt good about what I was doing."
Mr. Hull said he also enjoyed chatting with students and visitors about the weather, sporting events and other small talk.
William F. Maginn, another community member who exercises at the fitness center, said he's been visiting with Mr. Hull for more than 20 years.
"It's like seeing an old friend every time you walk into the building," Mr. Maginn said. "We chat back and forth."
When he started in 1957, Mr. Hull recollects there being about a dozen buildings on campus.
Today, there are roughly 65.
He's worked under seven different presidents, dating back to Eugene G. Bewkes who served from 1945 to 1963, followed by Foster S. Brown, Frank P. Piskor, W. Lawrence Gulick, Patti McGill Peterson, Daniel F. Sullivan and William L. Fox.
Mr. Hull was working as a janitor on campus when Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Fox were undergraduate students at SLU. Both discovered Mr. Hull still employed there when they returned to lead their alma mater.
Prior to SLU, Mr. Hull was employed by a contracting company that helped build the Iroquois Dam for the St. Lawrence Seaway project.
When a friend suggested he apply for the SLU job, Mr. Hull took the advice. A month later, he got married and bought a home at 15 Pyrites-Russell Road, about 12 miles from campus.
He and his wife, Margaret E., raised four children and still live in the same home on 3 acres of land. Mrs. Hull spent 28 years employed as a cook at SLU before retiring about 12 years ago.
In retirement, Mr. Hull plans to work on his property, where he grows apples, grapes, raspberries and blueberries. The couple also maintain a vegetable garden.
"I'm usually on the move 24 hours a day," Mr. Hull said. "People are teasing me about getting fat and lazy after I retire. That's not going to happen to me."