By: Jackson Dino, Editor-In-Chief
On Saturday, November 16, 2019, Brien McMahon High School Head Custodian Charlie Wyatt tragically passed away at the age of 49.
Mr. Wyatt was born in Norwalk on July 3, 1970, and graduated from Norwalk High School in 1988. A music aficionado, Mr. Wyatt served as a gospel DJ on WJDZ 1350 AM Radio Station in Bridgeport after continuing his education at the Connecticut School of Electronics in Stamford. In addition to his responsibilities as Head Custodian, Mr. Wyatt served as President of the Local 1042 Facilities, Maintenance, and Security Union (UPSEU), dedicated to securing health benefits and improved working conditions for its members. During his life, Mr. Wyatt was a man of faith, serving as a member of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Norwalk during his childhood, and later, the New Vision International Ministries in Bridgeport until his passing. Additionally, he worked as a tutor at the VITAM School in Norwalk, where he assisted in the academic needs of students.
Mr. Wyatt’s impact on the McMahon community cannot be understated. “I’ve known him for many years,” recalled BMHS Assistant Principal Dr. Marie Allen. “He was my night custodian when I was at Briggs. And then, being over at facilities, I’ve worked with him here for the past three years. He has always been a very compassionate person, a very caring person, very good to all children. He used to mentor children, and he used to talk to kids all the time, telling them to get to class, asking them how their grades are, ‘how’s your family,’. I’ve even seen him go in his pocket and give kids money for lunch if they didn’t have enough.”
McMahon senior Anthony Mayhew offered Words of Hope at Mr. Wyatt’s funeral. Mayhew had long known Wyatt through the New Vision Ministries, establishing a connection with him through religion and music.
“I’ve known him basically all my life,” confirmed Mayhew. “He was a person with this personality that was larger than life, but he also remained humble at the same time. He was the type of person that would be caring and considerate to other people. If he had to help somebody, he would focus on them, and if you were someone he knew and cared about, he would also make sure that you were all good. If you were just somebody that he just met that day, he would still be nice and sincere.”
“Charlie’s been here about a year and a half,” indicated BMHS Principal Mr. Hurwitz. “I [learned] about him through Grievance meetings. If there was something an employee was upset about, there would be a meeting. And as the head of the Custodian Union, Charlie would be at those meetings. In those meetings, I got to really respect him… I always found him to be really balanced, incredibly civil, he was a gentleman. While the topics of the meetings where contentious, the nature of the meetings were not necessarily contentious, and I think Charlie always set a tone at those meetings.”
“Charlie was hired as the Head Custodian. So it’s very hard - when you don’t have a lot of money in the facilities budget, to make [McMahon] the way you want it, he fought really hard to get all the supplies we needed, he assembled a crew, he was able to hire some guys here, who work very closely together, and they work closely with him,” continued Dr. Allen. “And I must say, this past summer, and the summer before last, they shined this building up, and made it look a lot better, and a lot cleaner. Of course, they’ve always had to come behind kids who are not respecting the building, and taking care of the facility. That’s been a big struggle. Not just in the cafeteria - and this year, the cafeteria has been wonderful, the kids have been doing a great job - but kids destroying the bathrooms. So, it gets pretty frustrating when you really work hard to clean an area, and then people come behind and destroy it.”
Principal Hurwitz understands the level of caring that Mr. Wyatt had for McMahon students. “He always had really positive things to say about the students. I get the sense that he really cared about the kids in this building on a human level. Whether he knew them or not, he was always rooting for kids, and always recognizing what was the best for [them],” Hurwitz maintained.
“Even though he’s gone, his spirit is still with us. It’s just like for anyone who passes that you deeply care about. Their body is with the Earth, their soul is gone, but a piece of them is always living inside you,” reasoned Mayhew.