LIBERTY — Richard “Dickie” Emery died at while working at Walker Elementary School on the morning of Jan. 17, according to a press release issued that day by Regional School Unit 3. The release said he suffered “a medical event.”

Waldo County Sheriff’s Office received a call at 9:51 a.m., according to Chief Deputy Matthew Curtis. Liberty Ambulance was called to the school where the man was pronounced dead.

Because there was a school opening delay that morning due to road conditions, Emery died before students arrived at school, Curtis said.

Emery had worked for the district for over 47 years and enjoyed working with kids at the school, according to a previous Republican Journal story. He had grown up in the area and attended the Walker School for five years as a child.

In charge of custodial maintenance, Emery fixed anything he was capable of and helped maintain the building, telling The Journal in September 2020 that much of the job was common sense.

The dedicated staff member hadn’t taken a vacation in 45 years until the summer of 2020, he told The Journal. Though he always felt uneasy about being in the spotlight, the school named a newly built gymnasium after him in 1996 and in August 2020 presented him with a Certificate of Appreciation for his 45 years of continuous service to the district.

Superintendent Charles Brown described Emery as a beloved member of the district, going “above and beyond” in his dedication to the job. Emery is remembered as somebody who was willing to lend a hand and he listened to students or colleagues, he said.

“Mr. Dickie, as he was known, will be remembered and missed by the whole school community,” the superintendent said. “Our thoughts are with Mr. Emery’s personal and work families at this time.”

The district suspended classes at the school on Wednesday, Jan. 18, but offered counseling services at the school for staff, students and community members from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day, according to the press release.

It also made counseling services available to other schools in the district for staff and students who needed it, the press release said. District officials urged parents to contact the school if they or their child needs to speak with someone regarding the grieving process.

“On behalf of RSU #3 our thoughts are with Mr. Emery’s family at this time and with our school community,” the press release said. “Thank you to our local first responders at Liberty Fire and Waldo County Sheriff’s Office for their response and support.”