Portland High School custodian Bill Anglemeyer, affectionately known as Mr. Bill, was turning 90 on Saturday, Nov. 23 and the school secretly planned a special day for him on Friday. While the student body of over 1,000 was walking quietly into the gym for a special surprise for him, the school principal, David Woods, was diverting Mr. Bill’s attention outside to do a project. While outside, Woods got a call that everything was in place for the surprise. Woods told Mr. Bill that there was a water leak in the gym and they headed that way. 

When Mr. Bill walked in to check on the leak, all the students yelled “Surprise” to him. The look on his face was evidence enough that the school had totally surprised him. When he walked to the center of the gym, where there were two birthday cakes with the numerals 90 on each cake, he was met by Portland Mayor Mike Callis who read a proclamation from the city naming Friday as Mr. Bill’s Day in Portland and at Portland High School. The ceremony ended with Woods lighting the candles on the two cakes for Mr. Bill to blow out. There were more cheers from the audience and many pictures were made to record the event. Sumner County School Board member Glen Gregory was present for the celebration.

According to Mr. Bill, he was surprised and never expected anything unusual. He said that there were no clues and he was shocked.

Woods said, "Mr. Bill never misses a day.  He is here every morning at 7 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.  He is a great role model for our kids because of his loyalty to the school and his work ethic. He always has a great attitude and is willing to do whatever you ask. Just a great guy and we were super happy we could make his 90th birthday so special. This had been in the works for about a year.”

Mr. Bill lived in Indiana before he came to the Portland area on a vacation. He loved the area so much he moved here about 40 years ago. He always liked custodial work and cleaned offices in Indiana. When he first came here, he began working as a custodian at Precision Industries. After a few years there, he moved to Portland High School in 1994 and worked for several years before transferring to Portland East Middle School, where he worked until he thought he was retiring. The faculty and staff knew he loved watching NASCAR racing and gave him the perfect retirement gift - a trip to Talladega where he got to ride in an actual race car. 

It didn’t take long before he was bored with retirement and answered a call to come work again at Portland High School, where he continues to work five-and-a-half hours daily Monday through Friday. 

Mr. Bill described the student body as a good bunch of kids who respect the building and help him keep it clean. He said, “I like working with kids and enjoy what I do. The teachers and staff are helpful to me. It is a friendly place to work. My doctor told me recently that whatever I was doing I needed to keep doing it.”

Recommended for you