Two long time Facilities staffers retiring in July

July 20, 2020

Walter Debboli and Michael Stringer are both retiring at the end of this month. Together, they have over 80 years of service. We caught up with them via Zoom as they reminisced about their time at Yale and what they will do in retirement.

As Manager of Recycling and Waste, Walter Debboli and his team are constantly on the go. Responsible for all three Yale Campuses, his team is out daily moving dumpsters used for renovations, events, and more. He meets with departments to understand and coordinate their refuse/dumpster needs that include football games and student moves. In addition, Walt’s team, in conjunction with Yale Sustainability, run a small recycling program. He manages a team of four, who drive four very large refuse trucks. Walt has been at Yale 37 years. He grew up in Plainville, CT, and received a B.S. in Environmental Planning from the Walt Debboli

University of Massachusetts.

What was your first job at Yale?

I thought I had applied for a job at the Yale Athletic Fields. During my interview, which included a tour, they brought me to this small garage in the Science area and said you may have to work here for a little while. Well, I never got to work on the athletic fields or the Yale Golf Course, and spent the next eight years running the Science area sanitation and grounds crews and the mechanics who maintained the equipment. It was truly an enjoyable time.  

What is your best memory?

Wow, that is hard, there are so many. I guess working and maintaining the gardens and yard of the President’s House on Hillhouse Avenue. I did that for 14 years. In my time at Yale, I’ve seen four presidents at the helm.

What will you miss most?

There are a lot of great people on this campus that I’m certainly going to miss. Over the years, I’ve worked with some very talented people and some very hands-on people. It’s been rewarding to see that work ethic and attitude. Many people I’ve worked with are all retired now. I feel like I’m the last of my era to go. I’ve spent my entire career in Grounds!

What are you planning to do during retirement?

I love the outdoors. I’m going to hike, fish, and do some horticultural work. I love gardening; it’s what I went to school for and why I came to Yale. Also, I’m going to spend lots of time with my grandson!

Any parting words?

When I’m feeling low or I see others are having a tough time, I say the following: Yale is probably the best thing that ever happened in my life. Because of Yale and my job here, I’ve met and worked with amazing people, saved for the future, and had a good life. I say with all sincerity, Yale really is a remarkable place and they do a lot for their employees.  For that I’m extremely grateful!

Michael Stringer, Facilities Superintendent, Facilities Operations, manages several buildings in the Science Hill Area. This includes Custodial Services, but also other facets of Facilities Operations for the buildings and general area, as well as any needed or planned project work. Michael will leave Yale with 47 years of service—30 years in Yale Dining and 17 years in Facilities Operations. He grew up in Mexico City, Mexico and graduated from a small prep school in Pebble Beach, CA. In 1977, he graduated from Yale (the fourth generation in his family to attend including several uncles) with a B.A. in Administrative Sciences. While a student, he worked part time at Yale.Michael Stringer

What was you first job at Yale?

In September 1973, I started as a student general worker at Commons Dining Hall primarily manning the dish machine, and as a food runner. By December, I became a student manager and assumed responsibility for the dinner meal at Commons and then also the late evening operations at the Durfee Sweet Shop, the Yale Cabaret, and The Café in Commons. I also worked many of the special-catered events.

What is your best Yale Memory?

Way too many memories to be able to choose just one. But my responsibilities over the many years allowed me to meet and interact with a huge number of celebrities and dignitaries. This included President Gerald Ford, both Bush Presidents, President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, several Supreme Court Justices, Paul McCartney, and many more. All fond memories. A major highlight in my life was meeting my wife while she was working at Commons Dining Hall in 1979. We dated for a while, and then became engaged and married in August 1980.

What are you planning to do in retirement?

Initially, I have no immediate plans other than some rest and relaxation, catch up on a lot of house, yard, and garden projects. After that, I hope to pursue some of my many other passions and interests and do some traveling.

Any parting words?

It is odd retiring during this awful pandemic, so I will miss being able to properly say my farewells to the hundreds of people I have worked with over my 47 years. I will not be a stranger to campus as I will remain in CT for now and will stay engaged by attending the many cultural and sporting events that have been a huge part of my life.