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Employee highlight: Mary Johnson and Joseph Gaines

January 10, 2023

Madison Hall custodians honored for their longtime service

Mary Johnson and Joseph Gaines — custodians serving Madison Hall — were recently recognized by the UVA Office of the President for their longtime service to the University.

In December, President Jim Ryan and his staff created a portrait of the two longtime staff members that is now displayed in a conference room within Madison Hall, where the Office of the President is located.

Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson

“They presented us [the portrait] in the President's office and we got a standing ovation,” said Joseph Gaines, who first joined the University in 1997 and has spent the past more than 25 years serving Madison Hall.

“It was exciting because we weren't expecting that. It was truly an honor,” said Mary Johnson, who first joined UVA in the 1960s working in dietary service before transferring to Facilities Management in 1966. Johnson worked on the department's custodial team for more than 40 years before she retired from the University in the early 2000s. She now serves UVA as an employee of custodial contractor BMS.

“I have worked in almost all of the buildings at UVA, except for the new ones that hadn't been built yet,” Johnson said. At one point she served on what was then known as the window washing crew, a team of employees who used extensive ladders to clean the exterior windows of all of the University's buildings. Johnson says the biggest change she has witnessed over the years has been the improvements to safety with the use of PPE, additional equipment, and green cleaning products.

Joseph Gaines
Joseph Gaines

The two longtime staff members say that the recent recognition is just one example of many times President Ryan and his staff have gone out of their way to show them appreciation.

“When he first [started at UVA], President Ryan said he wanted to meet everybody in the building, even the custodians,” recalls Gaines. “They include us when they host dinners, and the relationship is [very] friendly.”

“They consider us family over here,” added Johnson.

The plaque of the portrait is engraved with the following message: “This portrait is dedicated to Mary Johnson and Joseph Gaines in honor of their collective 90 years of service at the University of Virginia.”

About the author

Jane Centofante
Communications senior generalist
UVA Facilities Management
(434) 982-5846