Former Indianapolis resident Stacie Stufflebeam had just moved to Pittsburgh when she got a call from Sis Lloyd. Stufflebeam’s son Evan was walking home from Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh and couldn’t remember the way. Lloyd, a crossing guard at the corner of Beacon Street and Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill, noticed the child’s confusion and immediately contacted his mother.
Ever since, Stufflebeam said, “Sis has had a special place in our hearts.”
Rabbi Shmuli Mandelbaum — who, like scores of students, teachers, friends, family and community members, gathered at that congested intersection on June 16 to mark Lloyd’s retirement — offered a similar anecdote.
Mandelbaum recounted his family’s amazement that, on the first day of school, after moving from Lakewood, New Jersey, the crossing guard noticed their faces among the passersby and made sure to welcome the newbies to Squirrel Hill.
For someone like Lloyd, who’s spent 21 years helping people navigate the intersection — all the while protecting the neighborhood’s kids, residents and shoppers — there’s no shortage of tales, Councilman Corey O’Connor said.
“I have known her since I was very, very little. I didn't get any taller, but she'll tell you that,” O’Connor added before reading a proclamation declaring June 16 “Sis Lloyd Day” in the City of Pittsburgh.
The honor was “overwhelming,” Lloyd said. “I’ve been here for years and have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Lloyd, a Lincoln Park resident, began serving as a crossing guard in January 2001. Since then, she’s watched people both come to Squirrel Hill and leave the area. She’s seen children grow up, go off to college, return home and start their own lives. In the process of witnessing so much, she’s become “a part of Squirrel Hill,” she said. “This is my second family up here.”
“Sis is almost like that motherly figure. She’s someone who you’d share what’s going on in your life with,” Mimi Grossberg said.
Every morning for nearly 12 years, Grossberg and Lloyd crossed paths. As Grossberg headed to teach at Hillel Academy, she and Lloyd shared everything from pre-work pleasantries to lengthier exchanges about traveling, the weather or the holidays. Most of what they talked about, though, Grossberg said, was family — congratulations on accomplishments and condolences on losses.
Lloyd is more than someone who simply provides a service to the city, Grossberg said, “Sis is a friend.”
“She just cares for the kids and the adults in the neighborhood,” Yael Henteleff said. “That feeling is so amazing.”
Both in the morning and afternoon, for more than a decade, Lloyd helped Henteleff and her children navigate a corner frequented by pedestrians, cyclists and often impatient drivers.
“It’s a tough intersection,” Henteleff said. “Even if the kids are older, she always tells them to cross with her … When she is not there over the summer, I feel so unsafe. That intersection is so dangerous. I always feel so much better having her there to protect us.”
Squirrel Hill resident Connie Pollack carefully waited for Lloyd to help her cross the intersection on June 16 before displaying a sign reading, “Sis — We Will Miss You!! Happy Retirement.”
Pollack described Lloyd’s “sunny disposition” and said it was important to thank her for everything she’s done for the community.
“Sis has kept our children, family and friends safe for 20 years,” Pollack said.
Grandson Noah Mascara, 21, of West Mifflin was one of Llyod’s many family members who attended the ceremony.
The more than 100 people who gathered and stopped to wish Lloyd well and the colorful congratulatory messages hanging from the nearby poles were “truly awesome to see,” Mascara said. “She always came home with stories about her day at the crosswalk. It’s kind of crazy to see that it’s real, and everybody’s here, and she’s really loved.”
Lloyd’s granddaughter Emilie Mascara, 18, agreed, and pointed to the posters people made and the bouquets of flowers that were brought.
“It’s like a little family,” she said. “Everyone in the neighborhood seems so nice.”
Before the ceremony concluded and Lloyd began her much-deserved retirement, she paused from accepting praise, sharing weather-related insights and helping walkers cross the street, to take a photo with her family.
Noah Mascara told the Chronicle it was wonderful seeing so many people hold his grandmother in such high esteem.
She’s more than “an awesome person,” he said — she also offers a valuable lesson: “We're not as social as we used to be, and it just goes to show you that being social gets you everywhere in life.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.