By Karissa Porter, Staff Writer

Stephen Decker (Photo courtesy of Wyatt Porter)

Stephen Decker (Photo courtesy of Wyatt Porter)

 

  The story begins walking down a long hallway surrounded by white cement walls; ones that almost feel like they could slowly begin to close in and you would never be found again. As the walk continues, there is a sudden glimpse of light coming from a distant door on the right. Approaching it slowly, a small rustle of noise can be heard. This particular room looks identical to the hallway, plain white cement walls with a tiled white floor; however there is something different about this room. As the eyes scan lower and look straight ahead they are greeted by a familiar and smiling face saying, “well hi there!”

  This greeting comes from none other than Stephen Decker, the custodian responsible for maintaining Stone Hall, a residence hall at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF). Before working at UMF, Decker worked at Mount Blue High School for 34 years. “When I left, I never gone back,” said Decker. “There were some changes there and things just wasn’t working right and there was an opening here so this is where I am.” Decker has now been working at UMF for a little over three years.

  This area is a familiar one to Decker; he has always lived in Farmington. “Matter of fact, the place I grew up in I’m livin’ in,” said Decker, using his hands to point in the general direction of his home.

  Since being here in Farmington, Decker has created and raised his own family. “I’ve been married 33 years…34 years…somewhere around there. 79’ I think it was I got married,” said Decker with a smile. An even bigger smile spreads across his face when he continues; “We have

  The story begins walking down a long hallway surrounded by white cement walls; ones that almost feel like they could slowly begin to close in and you would never be found again. As the walk continues, there is a sudden glimpse of light coming from a distant door on the right. Approaching it slowly, a small rustle of noise can be heard. This particular room looks identical to the hallway, plain white cement walls with a tiled white floor; however there is something different about this room. As the eyes scan lower and look straight ahead they are greeted by a familiar and smiling face saying, “well hi there!”

  This greeting comes from none other than Stephen Decker, the custodian responsible for maintaining Stone Hall, a residence hall at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF). Before working at UMF, Decker worked at Mount Blue High School for 34 years. “When I left, I never gone back,” said Decker. “There were some changes there and things just wasn’t working right and there was an opening here so this is where I am.” Decker has now been working at UMF for a little over three years.

  This area is a familiar one to Decker; he has always lived in Farmington. “Matter of fact, the place I grew up in I’m livin’ in,” said Decker, using his hands to point in the general direction of his home.

  Since being here in Farmington, Decker has created and raised his own family. “I’ve been married 33 years…34 years…somewhere around there. 79’ I think it was I got married,” said Decker with a smile. An even bigger smile spreads across his face when he continues; “We have four children; we have two boys and two girls. The two girls were first and then the two boys. We have 11 grandchildren,” Decker relays this number without a pause to think.

  Decker can describe himself as nothing but, “happy go lucky.” However, he explained that he hasn’t always been so outgoing and social. “You know what, Imma tell you something, I used to be shy. And that shyness, I got over it when I worked for the school district, I started driving the school bus and I said, ‘uhh this aint gonna work.’ I had to change, so I started just talking to the kids and this is how I reacted to em and it worked. I got out of my shyness; let me tell ya, I was shy. I didn’t say nothin’ to nobody,” said Decker, as he said this he raised his hands and moved them quickly across the air to put an emphasis on the word nothing. “And then I went to work for driving school bus and I had to change, because they would’ve taken advantage of me, and I knew that. So I was shy, but I got over that. Going to work with young people really changed me, it really did.”

   Although many students on campus might not have known Decker back then, they know and appreciate the man he has become today. Tyler Rose, a junior at UMF, who has lived in Stone Hall all three years, comments on some of Decker’s best qualities. “He is always someone that you can talk to about anything, and he’s not just one of those people that will wait until he’s spoken to; every time you see him he’ll say, ‘hey how’s it going today?’ he’ll ask, ‘how you’ve been?’ ‘What were you up to for break?’ and he’s just a really nice guy,” said Rose.

  Mackenzie Yeaton, also a junior at UMF lived in Stone her freshman year. Although she did not request to live in Stone and was not particularly happy about being placed there, there are still things that she misses about the building. “His morning greet,” said Yeaton. “Whenever I’d go to class I would see him and he would always say ‘hi,’ and he would tell me about something that was going on with him, or the weather, or something like that.”

  Although Decker brings the personality and hospitality to the building, his wife continues to help create the homey atmosphere. “I work here but my wife brings in stuff for upstairs in the longue and blankets and the afghans and all that stuff. Once in a while she’ll bring in some cookies in for the guys here and the people here ya know. She likes me workin’ here and I like workin’ here so we’re kinda helpin each other out,” said Decker.

  “He is just an extremely nice guy, and he is a lot more than just a janitor, he’s a friend to a lot of people here,” said Rose. “He’s almost more like some sort of therapist, because he’s just so happy all the time and they want to know how he’s always so happy. He’ll give them advice on problems; he’s just a really good guy.”

  Decker is the kind of person that clicks easily with people because of his compassion. “Have people be friendly with other people, be concerned about other people, because ya know what, we don’t know what you’re going through and what she’s going through and just be passionate for people more,” said Decker. His hands begin to get busy on his lap, moving from being clasped together, to resting apart, to moving on his desk, showing that this is clearly something he feels strongly for.

  “Working here I’ve seen change and I’ve asked them about it and come to find out something’s going on in their life, but other people just go by and don’t pick it up ya know. It’s nice to help people; it really is, it really is, I enjoy that. Ya know, if you have a concern about somebody…we’re all in this world and going through it; let’s make the best of it,” said Decker. A caring person such as Decker is one that UMF is truly lucky to have as part of its staff here on campus.