On Friday, February 15th Saint Ann School in Neponset said goodbye to an old friend. Gerry (Shine) Canavan has been safely navigating school children across the busy intersection of Neponset Avenue and Ashmont Streets for the last twenty years.
But, do not call her a crossing guard.
"I am a civil servant," Gerry says. "I am a traffic supervisor, not a crossing guard, like everyone says."
Canavan currently lives in Quincy, but she is originally from Dorchester. She attended the John Marshall Elementary School and Jeremiah E. Burke High School.
Years ago, as she was walking her own son to school, Canavan learned about the opportunity to become a traffic supervisor. Boston did not have traffic supervisors before 1962. With nearly forty years on the job, Gerry Canavan is a pioneer in the field of traffic supervisors.
Prior to her twenty years keeping children safe at the corner of Ashmont and Neponset, Canavan protected little ones crossing at the intersection of Harvard, Bowdoin, and Washington Streets, which is, coincidentally, where Canavan lived for a good part of her own life.
Gerry Canavan says of her thirty-nine years as a traffic supervisor, " I always loved my job. I love the children, the teachers, and the parents. Everyone likes us because what we do is a helpful job. We take care of children. I'll miss Saint Ann's, but I'm getting tired."
To say goodbye, the children of Saint Ann's made cards and banners, which, along with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, they presented to Mrs. Canavan, as she led them across the street one final time.
Gerry Canavan's husband Leo passed away five years ago. She has a son, Paul and a daughter, Marlene and one grandson, Nicholas who is a United States Marine.
Gerry Canavan shares that she hopes retirement will give her the chance to pursue some of the things that she did not have time to do before, "I'd like to travel and maybe take computer lessons. I am completely computer ignorant."
The people of Saint Ann's will surely miss Gerry. School principal Cynthia Duggan shares, " Mrs. Canavan will be hard to replace. She has been a very important part of the Saint Ann School community. She helps keep our children safe and there is no job more important that. We wish her all of the best."