• Althaus: Jaguars fans remember ‘Superman’

  • Superman is gone.

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  • Superman is gone.
    But he will never be forgotten.
    Hundreds of Superman T-shirts were in the crowd, on the bench and behind the scorer’s table as Blue Springs South administrators, coaches, students, teachers and players paid a special tribute to South custodian Lonney Garrett, who passed away Dec. 8.
    The Blue Springs South gymnasium looked more like Metropolis, the fictitious home of Clark Kent/Superman Friday night as the Jaguars played host to Fort Osage. But there was nothing fictitious about the love the Jaguars had for their own super hero.
    “Lonney was Superman,” said South activities director Mark Bubalo, who worked hand in hand with the athletic facilities custodian the past three years.
    “Get this – I’d have to tell him after a long day of work, ‘Lonney, go home or you’re fired.’ We’d both laugh, and he’d just go right back to work. I don’t know if I’ve ever been around anyone who loved his job or this school as much as Lonney.”
    When students found out about Garrett’s sudden passing, they wanted to honor their late friend.
    “Someone came up with the idea of Superman t-shirts, because Lonney always wore this Superman belt buckle,’ principal Randy Dowell said. “It was his thing – when you thought of Lonney, you thought of that Superman belt buckle.”
    T-shirts were ordered and the school sold more than 300 of them, at $10 each.
    Next week, the school is going to present Garrett’s family with a check for $3,700 (that total includes donations from administrators and faculty members).
    Garrett was a character, and everyone Everyone at South has a favorite Lonney story.
    “Lonney danced everywhere he went,” Dowell said, mimicking some of Garrett’s top moves. “He’d just be working along and start dancing. But the thing I really remember is watching him ride our Gator (tractor). He’d be going as fast as that thing could go, and there was Lonney dancing on the Gator’s seat.”
    Jim Moran, a longtime gate and press box worker at South football games, remembers hearing Garrett’s name mentioned on workers’ walkie talkies before, during and after Jaguar games.
    “You’d hear Mark Bubalo’s voice, he’d call Lonney and that would be it,” Moran said, snapping his finger. “In the snap of a finger, Lonney took care of whatever Mark needed.”
    Garrett, whose father Lloyd was a custodian at Thomas Ultican Elementary School for 18 years, joined the South staff as a part-time employee before the ESPN televised season-opening football game against Rockhust a few years ago.
    “We hired him part time, and the minute we could hire him fulltime, we did,” Bubalo said. “We’ve lost a friend, a valued employee and a man who loved South with all his heart.”
    Page 2 of 2 - I have a feeling that somewhere Friday night, Lonney Garrett was polishing that Superman belt buckle, while he was working on his best dance moves and was groovin’ to a South 64-34 victory before an appreciative crowd that was paying respect to their own special hero.
    “I can tell you this about Lonney,” an emotional Bubablo said, “I’ve never been around anyone who enjoyed their job, or their life, as much as Lonney.
    “Gosh, we’re going to miss him.”
    But the Jaguars will never forget him.

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