AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Five decades is a long time for anything. Think about it, just over 50 years ago Lyndon B. Johnson was President. There have been 11 presidents between then and now.
So, for one person to be in one place that long, especially in the field of higher education. Well, that is something.
A lot changes in just over 50 years but through that change, some things still hold their meaning.
“This is my first real job,” said Gerald Kelley.
The even bigger things, the things that make a life truly special, never change.
“I think if I was waking up and I wasn’t coming here, there would be something wrong with my life,” said Kelley.
Oakland Community College and Gerald Kelley, both are institutions.
“Switchboard operator, OK? Library technician, AV technician, Secretary. First Male Secretary here at the college,” said Kelley describing all his jobs he has done.
The campus would not really run the same because he’s pretty much been here as long as the college. A member of the first graduating class back in 1967.
“There are very few people that stay in one career that make it as far as you have the 50 years, why? How?” asked WXYZ’s Brian Abel.
“It was convenient, and it produced a life for me that when I’m away from the college. I’m looking for a college type, things I can use,” said Kelley.
He never stopped being a student of life. Learning the developing technologies at the college over the years.
His knowledge and infectious personality appeal to students or maybe it’s just the coffee and donuts he puts out.
Either way, he’s been a constant here while the faces around him changed.
“It’s scary because 50 years ago when I walked through this door and not this door, but in the buildings, we had at that time. And I walked out, it seems like 50 minutes. You know, it doesn’t seem like 50 years at all. Just seems like I turned around and here I am,” said Kelley.
But if you think he’s ready to be one of the things that change. You’d be wrong. Fifty years of change, Gerald Kelley plans on staying the same, staying at Oakland Community College and in the classroom.
We even pressed him because 50 years is a long time to keep working.
“When you finally rest your hat, what are you going to miss most?” asked Abel.
“The students and talking about finally being done. If I retire, I still want to teach after I retire,” said Kelley.
“That’s not retirement, Jerry,” said Abel.
“That’s right. You’re right. You’re exactly right there. I do. I really don’t want to retire. That’s the sum total of it,” said Kelley.
He’s just not ready for that change to come. Congratulations on your career so far Jerry.