Each year, The Colgate Maroon-News chooses a topic to highlight for a Special Edition. This December, our theme is “People of the Year,” modeled after Time Magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” issue. In this special section, we have profiled sixteen individuals who have had made significant—and perhaps lesser-known—impacts on Colgate’s campus this year, be they in the classroom, at the football field or even on the Cruiser. Inside, read about what defines them as worthy of recognition.
Tracy Henry wakes up at 2:30 in the morning every day. He gets out of bed, lets out his dog and heads to Colgate, where he has worked in building maintenance for the past two and a half years. Henry arrives to work at 3:30 a.m. and walks through Lathrop Hall, where he prepares the building for the day. When I asked other students to talk about Henry, they immediately commented on his kindness and warmth.
“Tracy’s happiness is infectious,” senior Stacy Silnik said. “He truly takes pride in his work, and he really seems to care about all of the students he talks to in Lathrop. He is always there with a big smile and a kind word when you need it.”
Junior Margaret Pulte echoed this statement.
“He’s absolutely delightful,” Pulte said. “He always makes me feel welcome.”
After each class, Henry walks through the whole building, wiping down blackboards and emptying trash cans. Henry leaves Colgate at 3:30 p.m. and heads to Stockbridge Valley, where he drives a school bus.
“They’re little maniacs, but I love ’em,” Henry said, referring to the students he drives. “They keep me young.”
After he finishes his route, Henry goes home, where he takes his dog on a long walk, makes himself something nice for dinner and goes to bed by 6 p.m. Some nights, he treats himself to a hamburger, which he grills on his back deck.
“It’s all covered, so I can eat off the grill anytime, even when it’s snowy,” Henry said. “There is nothing more beautiful than looking out over my backyard while I make myself dinner.”
On the weekends, Henry has a little more time to himself. Whenever the weather is warm enough, or whenever he can make it work, Henry rides his Harley- Davidson motorcycle. He has a real biker’s moustache, one that forms a big white horseshoe around his mouth and makes his smile seem even wider. Henry cracked a huge grin when I asked about where he takes his Harley, and told me that he loves to just drive around with no particular destination in mind. He grew up in Oneida and raised his son there, so he is deeply sentimental about his drives through Central New York.
“You kids are so lucky to go to school out here,” he told me. “It’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever seen.”
Henry’s son, Troy, also lives in Oneida, so they see each other as often as they can. Henry is fairly busy—he drives party limousines on the weekends, and, when I asked about his wildest drive, he answered immediately.
“One time, a woman in my limo had a heart attack. I had to call 911 and wait with her,” said Henry.
He also enjoys working in his garden during the warmer months.
In March, Henry goes to Bike Week in Daytona Beach, Florida.
“It breaks up the winter really nicely,” he said, “and I can finally feel my toes again.” We talked about his trip last spring, when he came back tan and rejuvenated from the sun. “It’s one of the best weeks of the year,” he said. “It’s a bunch of people who all love what I love.”
Over the past two years, Henry and I have become friends. Most of my courses run in Lathrop, so we see each other a lot. I was not initially sure how to conclude this article, mostly because Henry is not someone I think I could ever accurately render on the page. He always greets me by name with a big smile, and we talk for a little while, mostly about school, his Harley or the weather. He wears a Bluetooth headset on the job, and strokes his moustache when he laughs. He never complains about anything, not rude students, early mornings or cold days.
I read once that true life is not found in times of tragedy or strife; it lives in small moments, when we accept things just as they are, not as we want them to be. Henry is someone who embodies this ethos, someone from whom I’ve learned a great deal. When we see each other and smile, all is well, just for a moment, just as it is.
Contact Laura Mucha at [email protected]