Everyone Has a Story – Bob L. Noelle

Brittany Hinkel, Editor/Cartoonist

We often associate heroes with the uniforms they wear. Whether it is a police uniform, fireman gear, or a military uniform, at some point the uniform comes off, leaving no indication of one’s heroic deeds.

There are heroes around us every day, and some wear no badge of honor, but humble themselves in everyday dress.

One of those heroes is Bob L. Noelle, better known by the students at Northeast Community College as “Janitor Bob.”

Noelle currently holds the title of maintenance custodian here at Northeast, and he is the only person on campus to have this title. His job requires cleaning in limited areas and doing lighter maintenance jobs.

However, as few would guess, Bob Noelle had been a fireman for many years before-hand.

He originally grew up on a farm in Stanton, where he went to high school and graduated. After graduation he volunteered at the fire department in Stanton, and remained a volunteer there for two and a half years.

He transferred to the fire department in Norfolk on July 1st 1970, where he became a paid fireman. The only requirements to join the Norfolk Fire Department at the time were: you had to be 21, married and have graduated high school.

Though Noelle had already met all of the requirements, he went to Northeast and got an associate’s degree in fire science in 1990. Using his knowledge from years of experience and his degree, he also helped develop a better fire science program at the college to give firemen more knowledge and improve their overall performance.

Later, Bob Noelle retired from the fire station at the end of the year 1995, after 25 years of loyal service.

He recalled one of his most memorable days serving for the fire station in which in the morning they had delivered a baby, and later that day, they ended up having to pick up an individual who had jumped off of a five-story building.

It was memorable perhaps because of the day literally demonstrating the concept: “a life for a life.”

This concept is also well illustrated by Noelle’s statement, “You bring one in, and take one out.”

Noelle and his wife Sharon had 4 children, the oldest daughter still living in Norfolk. He also has 3 grandchildren, 2 twin girls age 11, and one grandson, age 8.

He has been at Northeast for almost 17 years now, and says he likes working here because of all of the interesting things you see from day to day, most notably, with the students.

“What they do out here never surprises me, but it makes me wonder once in a while.”

Bob Noelle has lived his whole life helping people. Whether it is something as simple as creating a nice environment for people to live, or saving hundreds of lives, either way, it is comforting to know we have a hero among us.