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Cottage Grove resident and retiring school custodian Bob Beskar to be honored by school

Royal Oaks Elementary School's longtime custodian Bob Beskar will be retiring this July. In order to honor the U.S. Air Force veteran, the school's Kids Club program and PTA are hoping to raise money to install a flag pole light. Bulletin photo by Amber Kispert-Smith

Cottage Grove resident Bob Beskar has made Royal Oaks Elementary his home for the past 12 years as the school's custodian, but something seemed to be missing.

At the end of every day Beskar, who works as the school's night cleaner, takes down the school's American flag.

"People see it during the day, but the older elementary schools don't have the lighted flags so it comes down every night," said Beskar, a U.S. Air Force veteran. "I feel that it's only up half the time."

Royal Oaks' after-school Kids Club program and the Royal Oaks PTA decided to honor Beskar, who will be retiring this July, by raising money to install a light on the school's flagpole.

The Kids Club will be holding a raffle during the school's carnival on Saturday to raise money to purchase the light, which is expected to cost around $2,500.

"We wanted to do this just to honor Bob and all veterans who have put in so much time and love for our country," said Sarah Longhout, a supervisor for Kids Club. "Bob has made a huge impact on the students."

During last month's carnival, the Kids Club raffling off such items as headphones, restaurant gift certificates, Minnesota Twins tickets, four tickets to Skyzone and personal training at Lifetime Fitness.

Longhout and fellow Kids Club supervisor Jessi Wood said they decided the flag pole light would be a great way to honor Beskar not only because he a veteran, but he himself has been trying to get the flag pole lit for the past several years.

About five years ago, Beskar decided to approach District 833 about installing a light on the flag pole so that it can stay flying all the time. Proper flag etiquette requires flags to be taken down at night if they're not lit.

"It means a lot to me," he said. "It's a symbol of our country and freedom and it's important to keep it flying up there and show our pride."

Unfortunately, Beskar's request wasn't met with the same enthusiasm.

"It got shot down," he said. "Nobody really wanted to do anything about it for one reason or another."

Then a couple years ago Beskar began working with the school PTA to try and raise money for the light, but that too fell by the wayside after a while.

Then about a year ago, Wood and Longhout decided to take it on.

"We also had a little girl whose mom got deployed last year," Wood said. "It's all around us, so it's nice to honor them too."

@subhead:A friendly face

@9on11:Beskar first came to Royal Oaks to work as the school's custodian in 1998 after having working at Flint Hills Resource refinery for 15 years.

He had intended to retire, but once the economy took a downturn he needed something else to pay the bills.

"I was only going to do it a couple years and it's been almost 15," he said. "I like the teachers, the staff and the kids - it's like a big family here."

Longhout and Wood said Beskar is always there when they need them.

"When we need something, the only person available at the school is Bob," Wood said.

"He goes above and beyond with what he does," Longhout said.

Beskar will often visit classrooms on Memorial Day, Veterans Day and periodically throughout the year to teach students about the flag and the military.

"I'm trying to let the kids know what it's all about," he said. "They get a bigger picture what a soldier is all about. They come away with an appreciation for what we do and if I can do that, then I've accomplished something."

Beskar said he will miss Royal Oaks.

"I'm going to miss it more than any other job I've ever had," he said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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