If you know Neal Roush, you know he is busy all the time. If he is not at work, he is taking care of lawns, moving snow off driveways and walkways, helping out a friend or neighbor with some home repair, umpiring softball games in the summer or driving to Bozeman to see his daughter for a weekend.
At 61 years of age, you might think he would be wanting to slow down a bit. But that is not the way Neal is wired. He is on the move and on the go all the time. Not only does he like that way of life, it is the kind of life that suits him.
“I just keep going,” he said. “I love to help everyone, whether it is the kids in school or other people of Cut Bank. I enjoy helping people out.”
Neal is starting his 31st year working as a custodian for the Cut Bank School District. He started that career in August of 1990, working in the high school. After a short time working there, he soon found a permanent home as the custodian “engineer,” as he calls it, at Anna Jeffries Elementary School.
“After 30 years, I still enjoy my job,” he proclaimed. “I have one daughter, but I have lots of kids in the school. We at the school, we are just one big family. I especially enjoy the fourth and fifth graders. They are at a good age where they respect their teachers and the faculty of the school.”
The kids are one of the reasons Neal still loves his job. He likes being there for the kids every day.
“Sometimes they just need someone to talk to them, someone that says hello and asks them how their day is going. The ones that end up alone on the playground or in the cafeteria and don’t always have friends, are often times the ones I just go sit with and we talk. I like to think I might help them a little, cheer them up some,” shared Neal.
“The teachers appreciate the time I spend with the kids, whether I see them in the classroom or the hallways. They need to know school is a safe place. I think I help them see that,” he added.
The reward for Neal is seeing a student smile after talking to them. It is also rewarding to have students of all ages say, “Hey Mr. Roush, hi!” when they see him at the grocery store or perhaps a school sporting event. That always “makes me feel good,” smiled Neal. “Sometimes I get a hug or two as well. Maybe, just maybe, I made a difference in the lives of those kids.”
Neal was born and raised in Cut Bank, living most of his 61 years in his hometown. He graduated from Cut Bank High School, went to Helena Vo-Tech for two years with a focus on carpentry. He worked construction for a few years, but then found the job with the Cut Bank School District and never looked back.
“I originally took the job because I needed the benefits and insurance. I never thought I would be in this same job for 30 years,” he confessed.
But it is a job he loves, and it has worked out well for not only him, but the students and the school district as well.
Neal has a daughter, Anyssa, who is a nail technician living in Bozeman. He also has his four-legged best friend Baylor, his dog, that goes just about everywhere with Neal. “He is my right-hand man and has been for eight years,” Neal said. “He works with me most of the summer when I do lawn work.”
Along with doing lawn work during the summer, Neal also umpires high school girls’ softball and other slow-pitch softball games.
During the winter, he can be found clearing snow from driveways and walkways of not only the accounts he works for, but sometimes for an elderly resident or a neighbor that is not able to do that. He is also involved with St. Paul Lutheran Church.
Along with moving snow in the winter, Neal bowls during that season as well. “I also like to raft and spend time at Flathead Lake in the summer. And I drive down to Bozeman to see my daughter off and on too. There is always something for me to do.”
He continued, “I just keep going. I like to keep busy. If someone needs help with something, I am always willing to lend a hand. I don’t feel like I am 61. I think it helps that I am around all those young kids,” he shared. “I don’t want to slow down. So, like I said, I will just keep going.”