By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS - A man known for greeting everyone with a smile at the city's Library and Activities Center said farewell to fellow employees Friday, leaving them with a special thank you and some advice.
"I do thank each of you for having a smile for me, because that really means a lot to people," said Leon Wilder, the now-former Parks and Recreation custodial crew member.
Wilder started with the city in 2006 as a light equipment operator for Parks and Recreation before taking a short leave of absence. In 2008, he came back to work for the city as a member of the custodial crew. He is moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to be closer to family members.
On Friday, what was intended to be a small farewell among the Parks and Recreation staff grew into something bigger when employees from every department attended the reception to wish Wilder farewell.
"We are a better organization because of you," Parks and Recreation Director Jerry Bark said. "Your heart is always there for a good cause. ... If we could clone you, we would."
Wilder constantly went above and beyond what was required of him, Bark said before the farewell.
Wilder showed people around the Activities Center when no other staff was available, Bark said. He drove for the seniors program on various field trips, and he greeted every person who walked into the Library and Activities Center.
Wilder's greetings showed he is a true gentleman, Activities Coordinator Heather Cox said before the farewell.
"Everyone knows about Leon, his smile and his professionalism," Bark said.
When Wilder smiles at someone, you can see just how nice a person he is, Library Clerk Rose Ramon said.
"His smile is genuine, and it is true genuine warmth," Ramon said. "You can smile at people, but his makes you feel welcome."
Mayor Ed Mullen also thanked Wilder for his service to the city.
"I am a better person because I know you," Mullen said. "I think they said it right - everybody here loves you. ... You are a good man in every sense of the word."
Wilder said Harker Heights is a great place to work because of his fellow employees and their desire to make the city the best.
"It is up to each one of us to make the city what it is," he said. "We have to give 110 percent."