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111th honors crossing guard

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A school crossing guard from Oakland Gardens whose battle with cancer recently forced her to retire was given her due last week as the 111th Precinct Community Council honored her for keeping neighborhood children safe for three decades.

Johanna Keating, 66, who grew up in Manhattan and moved to the Oakland Gardens section of Bayside 38 years ago, was given a plaque by the council at its Oct. 7 meeting. Keating, who has been fighting cancer for 10 years, had worked as a school crossing guard at Bayside’s PS 188 for 30 years, but retired in August.

“The only thing I regret is leaving the kids,” she said of stepping down from the job. “I’ll miss them more than anything.”

Keating had worked at the same corner — Kingsbury Avenue and Hartland Avenue in Bayside — since 1978. The school, at 218−12 Hartland Ave., has kindergarten through sixth−grade students.

Keating said students would often returned to visit her after having graduated.

“I’ve had kids come back who graduated from medical school,” she said. “I’ve had kids cross on my corner whose parents used to cross [there].”

She said she began working the corner when her youngest child was in first−grade. Keating saw an advertisement in a local paper for the job and answered it.

But she retired from her post in early August following a 10−year battle with cancer that required multiple treatments. She said she will move with her husband to New Jersey early next year.

Gary Poggiali, community affairs officer for the 111th Precinct, said Keating was dedicated to ensuring the safety of PS 188’s students.

“She was hardworking, regardless of illness,” he said. “She would have time off, but still drove by to make sure someone was there. That’s the type of person she is. She knew all the children in the neighborhood. She’s a very concerned person who went above and beyond to ensure the safety of children.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:38 pm, October 10, 2011
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