Marlene Ferko’s Whistle For Her South End Kids

Bill Kaempffer, public safety spokesman for the city, shares this story about a woman who spent 38 years as a school crossing guard

For nearly four decades–in blistering heat, arctic blasts and sheets of rain -Marlene Ferko made sure the children of the South End made it to school safely.

After 38 years, after ushering two generations of kids across the street, Ms. Ferko is hanging up her whistle as a school crossing guard.

“It has been an honor and I’ve really, really enjoyed it,” Ferko said.

She took pride in her work.

“Not a dog or a cat or a squirrel ever got hit when I was standing there. There never was one accident when I was there.”

Ferko is an institution at Iranistan and South avenues. She has crossed kindergartners and watched them graduate and go on to high school. And then she crossed their children and watched them grow up too.

It was a labor of love at that intersection. There’s no shade. No respite from the cold or heat. But the love was returned, she said. She remembers simple acts of kindness. People dropped off a hot chocolate to take the edge off the bitter cold. A trucker from nearby Sikorsky stopped and gave her a large company golf umbrella. One mothers day, she received a card full of signatures and well wishes from the kids who she crossed.

“I’ve never been lonely at that corner.”

Ferko started in 1975 as a crossing guard, when Gerald Ford was president. She’s had two corners during her career.

She learned lessons along the way. She never left her whistle at home and one time bestowed that wisdom on a police officer one time who was directing uncooperative traffic at a construction job.

“They do pay attention to the whistle,” she told him. “Both the kids and the cars.”

And there are special moments.

One time, a car with a New York license plate pulled up at the corner. She thought he was lost. The man got out.

“He said, ‘I know that you’re not going to remember me but I think you were my crossing guard when I went to Roosevelt School,” she recalled. Then he asked two women to take a picture of him with Ferko so he could show it to his children.

“It kind of made me proud.”

The city lost another longtime and valued employee this month. Barbara Martire spent more than 40 years and became the supervisor for the school crossing guards of the City of Bridgeport. She passed away this month.



  1. Marlene Ferko, thank you for your service to our children for 38 years. I have lived in the same neighborhood as Ms. Ferko for nearly 30 years and her love and concern for the South End is second to none. I will miss waving at her at Iranistan and South Avenues but I will wave and speak to her when she is sitting on her porch. This was not a job for her but a calling and a labor of love for our children. Thank you Marlene Ferko for caring.

  2. People like Marlene Ferko and Barbara Martire are the heart and soul of our city. I must believe, I do believe, there are so many more like them going about their lives and work every day, unseen by most, adding so positively to the fabric of our community. They are who our elected officials need remember they represent and not the interests of a chosen few (i.e. Manny Moutinho, Sal DiNardo, et al.).


Leave a Reply