In 1976, Daniel Beaton began working as a custodian for Boston College as a 24-year-old father of three. Now, as a truck driver for BC’s mail services, Beaton has sent four of his five kids to BC, and is in his 45th year of marriage while approaching his 42nd year as a BC employee.
He has seen four decades of BC’s progress as an academic institution, ensured an education for his children that he did not receive himself, and has grown to embody the institution’s challenge to its community: men and women for others.
“I had three kids, I had to grow up, and I had two kids while I was working here,” he said. “And as I matured, BC seemed to mature, too, so that’s something.”
Beaton came to BC looking for job security during a rough 1975 economy, and started as a custodian.
“It was only going to be a brief stop, but it turned into something totally different,” he smiled.
Since 1987, Beaton has been one of three truck drivers who ensure that everyone at BC receives their packages. Every day, a bulk delivery of packages and mail gets dumped in the Newton central facility. And every day, the mail staff sorts the packages based on mail room locations across campus, which the three drivers haul to the stops they are responsible for.
College Road, all of Brighton Campus, the Career Center, and all of Hammond Street have Beaton to thank for their packages. Beaton also goes to the Chestnut Hill post office to pick up any packages and mail that require a signature. But, for Beaton, BC is more than an employer he transports packages for.
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In 1982, Beaton enrolled in his first college courses, and continued his education for three years. While he did not complete a degree, a particular course taught by Weston (“Sandy”) Jenks, the founder of University Counseling Services who also taught English composition classes, still stands out to him.
“He taught you how to construct paragraphs, which in my background, from high school, no one had taught us how to construct paragraphs,” Beaton said.
“I got so much out of the class,” he said. “A kid like me, I grew up in Dorchester, near Roxbury, it was a nice feeling—to feel like you could achieve something.”
This humble appreciation seems to have permeated most aspects of Beaton’s life as he grew alongside the University.
“I’ve been very lucky to be at BC,” he said. “You know I’m probably going to be retiring in the next year, and when you look back on your life and you think about all the people that you’ve met here, who’ve influenced you, and who’ve helped you, just have a good day.”
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While one of the main reasons Beaton stayed at BC was to give his children an education—his oldest is nearly 45 years old and his youngest 32—Beaton, at age 66, is still working 45 hour weeks here.
“Like I said, we had five kids,” Beaton paused. “I lost my son a year and a half ago. And he’s the reason I keep working. It takes my mind off of him, but it also helps me remember him.”
Beaton’s late son did not attend BC.
“Obviously when you lose a son, when you lose a child, you always say ‘what could I have done?’ And I often wonder if I had him come here, if he’d still be alive. But I don’t know that, and I never will,” he said. “But I know how much BC and the education that my kids received here has bettered them.”
eaton’s pride in his children and gratitude toward BC was weaved into how he spoke about them, rattling off the names of influential faculty in his kids’ BC careers.
Beaton’s son, also named Daniel, graduated in 1998, after rowing crew for four years. His daughter Kristen, BC ’97 and SSW ’99, 13 months older than Daniel, decided to stay home rather than live on campus. She and her older sister Jennifer, BC ’99, helped their parents, who were both working full time, take care of Lauren, who was then three years old.
“Kristen went to school full time, worked part time, 20 hours a week, and she took care of her 3-year-old sister, and she graduated and went on to go to the school of social work here and got a master’s in social work,” Beaton nodded, still impressed.
Openly proud of his children’s growth through BC, Beaton is modest about himself. Around the time his oldest daughter, Jennifer, BC ’99, started at the University, Beaton quit drinking. He is 26 years sober.
“It’s nothing to be proud of, it’s something you just do,” he said. “And it made me appreciate my life a whole lot more.”
As the father of four BC graduates, Beaton is very familiar with the turmoils of freshman year. It scares him every time he sees an upset freshman—especially in September.
“As a parent, I’ve been in those shoes when one of my kids was going to leave, and they’re having an anxiety breakdown and didn’t feel like they belonged here,” he said. “So yeah, I’ll go out of my way for kids. It’s not that hard. How hard is it?”
Years ago, on Newton Campus, a student approached the mail window in hopes of finding a refrigerator that was never delivered to her. Her mother, naturally concerned, would call everyday, distressing her daughter.
“When she came to the window, she was so upset that I looked at her and said ‘you know what, I’m going to find this girl’s refrigerator and bring it right to her room,’” he said.
And after a 10-minute search and another 10 minutes of delivery, the fridge was finally in its owner’s hands.
It was just a matter of putting himself in her shoes. And, while a simple action, it was backed by empathy for a student who had just left home.
That Christmas, Beaton received a card from the student’s mother saying “Thank you very much.”
“What I hear a lot around here is ‘What would God do about that?’” he laughed. “He’d probably go find the refrigerator for her.”
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Beaton’s impact in the BC community has not been limited to mail services. Michael Raffi, a fellow BC mail service truck driver, explained that Beaton has helped Facilities shovel during the winter snowstorms over the years, volunteering 20 hours of his time to assist the grounds crew and housekeeping.
“That’s something that a lot of people don’t know about him, that he does on the side,” Raffi said. “He’ll shovel here before his house.”
Beaton’s positive attitude, his frequent reflection, and his humble appreciation for life seems to truly align with the institution’s well touted motto: men and women for others.
“Life is life, life is tough. It really is. We’re all going to have to go through losses and sicknesses, and there’s the other side too, on the other side there are weddings and graduations and parties, and all that stuff,” he said. “And I’ve lived it all. I’ve had a great life.”
Now, at 66 years old, Beaton is planning to retire and dedicate the rest of his life to helping others using his experiences.
“I’m probably going to work in the field of alcohol and drug addiction. Probably do some counseling. That’s how my son died, at 37 years old,” he said. “He was a great kid. A great kid. People have their own stereotypes of what drug addicts are—that’s a conversation for another day.”
While relatively few members of the BC community saw Beaton’s four-decade-long journey, Beaton has witnessed all of BC’s progression.
Describing BC as a “party school” in “dire straits” during the ’70s, Beaton came to BC in 1976 during a turning point in the University. Alongside countless other BC staff, he saw then-University President Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J. guide the University into its current status. Beaton came to this school four years into Monan’s leadership, and now sees University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., following in Monan’s footsteps, growing BC into a more challenging academic University.
“I’m just your average everyday Joe, who came to work here when I was 24 years old and I found a home,” he said. “I found people who took care of me until I matured, and I grew up while I was here, and I can retire, and I can be happy.”
It’s a good day.
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Staff