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From Holley to Happy--A Traffic Guard’s Impact is a Never-Ending Road

Happy waves at students while letting them cross the road between West Campus and Law Parking Lot. (Photo by Emma Duncan)

By Emma Duncan--Eagle Editor

Whether one rides the bus, travels with a parent or friend, or drives themselves to school, most Eagles have seen a joyful man dressed in neon yellow and orange dancing and waving on Tanyard Road as he directs traffic. His name and effect on people are one and the same; he is Happy.

Also known as William Holley, Happy has been an FCHS employee for 16 years, and while he mostly directs traffic, he wears many pairs of Eagle wings.

“During the summer they train me to do floors [and] clean up the school,” Happy explained. “Mostly I’ve been training new custodians…stripping the floors and waxing.”

Before this, he was a security officer at Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital for seven years, as well as a volunteer with Rocky Mount Fire Department, a position he still holds today.

“I’ve volunteered on RMFD [for] 24 years. During those years I’ve served as Assistant Chief. Captain, Lieutenant, [and] fire instructor. Hope to go for Fire Marshal,” Happy added.

Happy is a Franklin County native, having also graduated from here in 1980. He explained that the atmosphere on campus wasn’t overflowing with joy when he began directing traffic, as students seemed to need encouragement and enthusiasm throughout their day.

“When I started, people had sour faces. I just turn up the notch and dance,” Happy shared. “You never know what anyone is going through. I’ve been in some rough storms in my life so seeing you guys down, I have to be the big brother. I’ve had several [cars] come back and thank me. Now [I] guess you can say I have a fan club.”

This simple act is how he went from Holley to Happy.

“It was school kids who gave me the name, Happy Hands, then later on just Happy,” he recalled. “Everyone has said ‘I can see why they name you Happy. You’re always smiling.’”

To Happy, his job is more than just stopping cars; It’s a chance to build relationships.

“[I love] being able to talk with you guys, greeting at the crosswalk,” he said. “You guys are like family to me. You cheer me on and break out a happy move. It’s a shocker after I tell some of them I’m a crazy 62-year-old man, thinking I’m 18.”

Junior McKenna Roderick reportedly has lots of gratitude for all that Happy is and does.

“I see Happy about every day. He’s a great coworker to my dad [a fellow safety officer at FCHS] and a great friend of my family,” she commented. “He’s always in such a bright and happy mood. I think he’s a great guy with a great attitude. He tends to bring joy to every student with his dancing and laughing while getting his job done. He adds laughter and fun to everyone’s day with his smile. Thank you, Happy, for always being a light to me, my family, and my peers at school through your work!”

While Happy is a light to some, he is an inspiration to others.

"Every conversation I've had with him has put a smile on my face and makes me want to be more like him," senior Heidi Eames revealed. "Just seeing him when I pull into school makes my day better. Happy is the light we need. We get caught up in our own stresses of life that we forget about the things that matter. Happy is happiness personified, exuding joy and love. You are so loved, Happy. Thank you."

Happy’s uplifting attitude isn’t a facade he puts on while working. This demeanor carries through all he does.

“He would be like that wherever he’s at,” administrator Andrew Nester confirmed. “He’s always an upbeat, positive person who always interacts with people. Very down to earth, you can always count on him. There have been times when I’ve had to say, ‘Hey can you run and do this,’ and he’ll do it in a heartbeat. He’s the same Happy with whoever he interacts with.”

Happy said that the hardest part of his job is seeing students hurt, but according to senior Payton Foley, Happy is the reason many of her bad days have turned around.

“He really just puts a smile on everybody’s face when he’s directing traffic. I love how he makes an effort to make you smile even when he’s not on traffic duty,” Foley shared. “Whether it be as simple as a wave or a smile when walking on campus, Happy has definitely turned some bad mornings into good days.”

Although it may come as a surprise to some Eagles, Happy occasionally finds himself feeling a little low, but never for long.

“I don’t really get sad,” he said, “but if it does come, I listen to my music and I’m good!”

This is mostly due to all the support and love he receives from the Eagles, so Happy felt it fitting to send a special message to the students of FCHS.

“Life is short, run hard, get things done, enjoy what you have finished. Let your character be an example,” Happy advised. “My only hope is, my character will rub off [on] you guys, working the crosswalk. It's a blessing to me. By far you guys make me Happy! I thank you guys!”

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