TCU Daily Skiff Tuesday, April 20, 2004
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Physical Plant worker keeps TCU clean
Eddie Peterson, a waste management specialist, has worked at TCU for 31 years and made a career out of keeping the university clean and safe.

By Erin Baethge
Staff Reporter

Eddie Peterson leaves his east Fort Worth home at 6:30 a.m. to start work at 7 a.m. at TCU. He’s been doing this more than half his life.

Peterson is not a professor; he is employed by the Physical Plant and has spent his career making sure TCU is clean and safe.

He is a shy man who doesn’t enjoy talking about himself.

“I have a hard time puttin’ things in words,” Peterson said.

But Peterson doesn’t let his shy demeanor stop him from smiling at passing students with a toothless grin and raising his TCU cap to call out “Good morning!” in a Southern drawl.

His leathery face has more than enough wrinkles to mark his 31 years at this university.
Peterson, 60, got his start at TCU in 1973, as a supervisor of the house-cleaning night crew. He worked for eight years before leaving for a year to work for Tarrant County Junior College, only to return the following year to take a day job with the Physical Plant.

Peterson said he took the day job in 1982, so he would have time to spend with his eight children and his wife, Glisson, whom he has been married to for 31 years.
“This is my second home,” Peterson said of TCU. “I spend more time here at this university than I do at my real home.”

Now, Peterson is the waste management specialist, and he travels the campus in a truck to pick up litter and the trash in bins.

But his job entails more than picking up trash.

Peterson also puts down the hot tape that marks individual parking spaces, and he puts up new parking signs and repairs old ones.

Additionally, he sets up the orange traffic cones and barricades around campus for athletic games.

Although Peterson said he is a die-hard Frogs fan, he only gets to watch about 15 minutes of any game because he helps with traffic flow in the parking lots.

If it’s a Saturday night football game, then Peterson will work all day getting the parking lots ready, said Mike Warren, fleet and equipment maintenance supervisor at the Physical Plant. Peterson won’t leave until 1 a.m. Sunday and he will be back Monday morning ready to go, Warren said.

Peterson’s willingness to stay late is part of his nature, Warren said.

“He is real conscious of his job,” Warren said. “He knows his job. If you hold him back, he’ll get upset.”

Peterson said he is proud to be part of the TCU staff because the university trusts him to get his job done.

“I was taught how to work with my hands,” Peterson said. “I was in special ed, and my hands are my trade. They know I can complete any job.”

Up until two years ago, Peterson worked seven days a week, but now he takes the weekends off.

“For years he did it all by himself, but I decided seven days was too much,” Warren said. “He needs to have a life of his own. But he probably sits at home all weekend worrying that something isn’t getting done up here.”

Peterson said the greatest benefit of his job is his children can get free tuition to TCU.
“I can’t read, and I can’t write, so that’s why I tell my children to get their high school diplomas and try to go to college,” said Peterson, who never graduated from high school.

Out of his eight children, one son, Terry Lee, graduated from TCU in 1992 and now serves in the military. His youngest child, 16-year-old Karen, plans on coming to TCU in 2007, he said.

“I’ve worked here at this university around so many young girls and boys, but now I will finally have one of my own to see walking around campus,” Peterson said. “I’m real proud of her for wanting to come here.”

Karen, a freshman at O.D. Wyatt, said she has wanted to come to TCU since the fifth grade to study to become a religion professor.

“All my brothers and sisters had a chance, but they blew it off,” Karen said. “I have the advantage to learn things other kids don’t get to because my father works here.”

Peterson said he doesn’t only care about his children, but also thinks of all students as one of his own and looks out for their safety by taking extra precaution when driving around campus.

“I do not drive fast,” Peterson said. “Everyone says I drive too slow, but you never know when a student will step out between parked cars and you nail them.”

Last year, Peterson was recognized for 30 years of employment at TCU with a bronze clock with his name and the number of years of employment engraved on it.

“People couldn’t believe I had been out here for that long,” Peterson said of the human resources staff at the ceremony.

Peterson said he plans on working for TCU as long as he can.

“I feel like at home here,” Peterson said. “To work here, you ought to be pretty proud because I am.”

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