Former Hallsville crossing guard misses her post, hopes she can inspire others to hoist the big red STOP sign

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Marilyn Pettigrew, foreground, says the time spent as a crossing guard at Hallsville Elementary was the best. Her husband and No. 1 assistant, Ray, is to the left. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTERMANCHESTER, NH – Marilyn Pettigrew loved being a crossing guard for students who needed safe passage to Hallsville Elementary School. Her time as a crossing guard ended due to shoulder surgery in 2018, but she would do it again in a heartbeat, if she could.

“With the school year starting soon I thought it might be good to remind people that crossing guards are always needed,” said Pettigrew, who I met up with outside the now-closed Hallsville school on a recent hot and sunny day. She pulled her safety vest and stop sign out of storage for the occasion and brought along her husband Ray, who is her No. 1 assistant.

She also brought along a cherished memento she wanted to show me.

“One of the children gave me a picture that she colored and wrote a beautiful note on it. I still have it hanging on a wall at home,” Pettigrew says.  “She wrote ‘From Emily L, To G: Thank you for making sure we cross the road safe.’  This was in October 2017, and so I’m guessing she must be a freshman by now. It’s something special.”

The “G” in the greeting is the nickname Pettigrew earned from students as a beloved foster grandmother, a role she filled for three years before taking on the post as crossing guard in 2017.

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Ray Pettigrew holds an umbrella to shade his wife, Marilyn Pettigrew, a former crossing guard for Hallsville School. Photo/Carol Robidoux

“We used to get mittens and hats donated and I’d hang them on the fence for the kids,” says Pettigrew. She was inspired to become a crossing guard after walking past the school on her way home from a dental appointment.

“Another crossing guard along the route said they needed a crossing guard here, and that I should apply. I said I’d think about it – and then I decided to apply since it’s not far from my house – and I got hired,” she said.

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Marilyn Pettigrew shows a colorful rendering of a dog gifted to her by “Emily L.,” a grateful Hallsville student, back in 2017. She also is holding a mug she received from another student, for keeping kids safe. Photo/Carol Robidoux

“I just love the children. But it became too much for me after my shoulder surgery. It was too physically demanding,” she says, the weight of hoisting her big lollipop stop sign was just too much.

Before crossing guard duty and foster grandmothering, Pettigrew worked as a lunch lady at both Central and West high schools, until retiring. “Seven years was long enough,” she says, with a laugh.

Her husband Ray was a custodian for Goffstown schools, but he retired the day before her 2018 surgery, knowing he’d be needed at home. They’re still a team, though. Ray holds a sun-faded orange umbrella over Marilyn to shade her from the heat-wave-intensity rays, the purple streaks in her hair illuminated, even in the shade.

“Oh yeah, purple slurple – that’s my color,” Pettigrew says, when asked about her lilac locks. Her smile widens as she stretches out her arm to demonstrate how closely her hair color matches her purple shirt.

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Marilyn Pettigrew for several years was at her post, at the intersection of Jewett and Hayward streets, no matter the weather. Photo/Carol Robidoux

The hardest part of the job was the winter weather, Pettigrew says. But she always arrived early and stayed late, watching for early birds or playground stragglers so they could get across the road safely. She also helped plenty of middle-schoolers who came her way.

Everyone was safe on Marilyn’s watch.

“The best part was interacting with the children. Every day was a joy,” Pettigrew said. “I hope someone out there reading this will consider becoming a crossing guard.”

According to Manchester School District spokesman Andrew Toland, the district is short 11 crossing guards for this school year. Anyone interested can apply online here.

Manchester Rising is an ongoing series of stories focused on the people, organizations and entities elevating and engaging our community. Send story/subject suggestions to for consideration.


About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!