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Maintenance man honored with street name

By Bethany Knipp

He’s a man who’s lived in the Manhattan area his whole life, and he’s so humble that no one would know he deserved a street named after him.

John Pride, 68, is a maintenance man who’s worked for Countryside Parks (formerly Countryside Estates) for 42 years.

“I’ve been here so long now I’m just part of the fixtures,” Pride said.

But to his coworkers and residents of the trailer park at 42 Powerline Place, Pride is much more than that.

A few weeks ago, his coworkers unveiled John Pride Lane in recognition of the person they say is an inspiration to everyone.

In addition, the cul-de-sac of eight new mobile homes in the park is now called Pride Place – formerly Rex Place.

“He’s just such a great guy, and I mean truthfully an inspiration to people everywhere because his work ethic is incredible,” said park manager Gail Lortscher. “He sees a job that needs to be done and this man, you cannot stop him.”

It’s true that nothing has stopped Pride from coming to a job he loves – not the house fire in 2011 that destroyed everything he owned, including family photographs, or the cancer that hit him in 2012, or even the car accident that broke his back later that year.

“Shortly after I took this job, (John) was in a car accident and broke his back … I don’t think it was two days after his accident that he went home. I don’t think doctors wanted him to. I think he forced them to and he was here. He was back here,” Lortscher said.

Pride was nonchalant about all the trying events.

“We lost our house, in ’12, I had cancer of the lung,” he said. “They came in and popped part of my lung out. Went back to work.”

“He beat cancer in a day,” said Pride’s assistant, Riley Lortscher. “You can’t keep him down. He’ll keep on trucking.”

Pride, who has been married to his wife, Janice, for 48 years, has three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren – and he says his life is pretty spectacular.

“There’s nobody in the world that’s had a great life and more fun than I’ve had,” he said. 

According to his coworkers, it’s not only Pride’s resilience that’s inspired them, it’s also his heart of gold.

“He has a good heart. He’s done things for people I just can’t tell you,” Gail Lortscher said.

She said John has helped the park’s residents in times of need, even if he’s worked hard all day – and that Pride has gone so far as to distribute heaters to residents at all hours of the day and night, or fixed plumbing issues for those who could not afford to hire help.

“I was just doing my job,” Pride said.

“It doesn’t matter how tired he is, he worries about other people,” Gail Lortscher said.

Pride insists he was just raised to take care of people. He was 16 years old when his mother died and he helped take care of his siblings, he said.

Pride’s attitude and his caring nature inspired management to create that street sign, which was unveiled on Feb. 3.

“I’m very shocked over it, I can tell you that. I don’t know if I deserve it, but it sure is nice,” he said.

Gail Lortscher said the park crew had to keep the secret about the sign for months. She said it was installed in December, so the park crew had to keep Pride from going near it. 

Even the mailmen and the residents of Pride Place were in on it.

“When the residents came in we had to tell them, ‘Oh, your address is really not Rex Place, it’s really John Pride Lane. Shh.’ We had to swear a lot of people to secrecy,” she said.

But the secret was almost botched by a person from Kansas Gas Service who called Pride about a maintenance issue, and asked him if a street was being named after him.

Pride said there wasn’t. He told the man that he was probably thinking of Pride Drive in southeast Manhattan, which was actually named for Pride’s uncle who had owned the land.

That indicated to Pride that something was in the works.

“I knew there was something up but I didn’t know what it was,” he said. 

And despite his humility, Pride is enjoying the sign, according to Riley Lorschter.

He told our maintenance guy, ‘You’d better be keeping that place clean now, it’s got my name on it,’” she said.

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