The Paly Voice

Paly community mourns the loss of custodian Jill Lee


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Palo Alto High School students and staff are mourning the loss of Audrey "Jill" Lee, lead night custodian at Paly, who died of heart failure after 20 years of service to the school.

Beginning her career at Paly in 1984, other custodians and staff members were immediately impressed by her hard work and organizational skills. Constantly battling diabetes, her associates appreciated her hard work until she opted to leave on early retirement in March due to heath problems.

"She’d always be waiting after wrestling to sweep up," wrestling head coach Dave Duran said. "She was always ready to do a good job with a friendly attitude."

Not only did Lee do a thorough job with her requirements, but she also was responsible for supervising six other night custodians. She also answered all calls and requests from the administration.

When she retired, all the custodians contributed to fund a vacation to start her retirement, according to custodian Greg Barela.

However, it was Lee’s actions outside of work that made her such an impressive person. She was notorious for putting on a barbeque for the custodial and administrative staffs, according to assistant principal Chuck Merritt.

"During summer time, the custodial staff works hard to clean the whole school, shampoo the carpets, and dust the furniture all while working around the summer school program," Merritt said. "At the end of each summer, Jill would organize and work a great barbeque for the entire staff. She would invite everyone who was around Paly over the summer, and custodians from other school districts would even come."

When Lee retired, Barela, who usually worked the night shift under Lee, was nominated to be the new lead night custodian. The new night custodian taking over Barela’s old duties will be Tee Chi.

"Tee Chi is a younger custodian and brings his youth and energy to the job," Merritt said. "While most custodians are in their 50s or 60s, Tee [in his 20s] adds an energetic, positive attitude toward his work."

"She was a really good worker," Barela said.

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