LaBelle, 52, began working as a groundskeeper for TCC in 1986. His love for the outdoors has fueled his 6 a.m. arrival on South Campus for the last two decades, he said.
LaBelle briefly mentioned his wife of 25 years and 24-year-old son before smiling warmly after refusing to elaborate. Like a celebrity shunning the cameras, he keeps his personal life for his enjoyment only.
Soft-spoken but at the same time outgoing, he is also a man of habit. TCC rewards his steadfastness.
“I’ve been here a long time,” LeBelle said. “I get a month long vacation each year and I’ve accumulated 720 hours of sick leave.”
He uses the time off to travel across the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
Not too much has changed about his job over the years, he said. It consists of traveling to and from various locations on campus and mowing, planting trees or grinding mulch while listening to Journey on his headphones.
“I’m just trying to survive, man. I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this place and it’s too late to change midstream,” said LaBelle, who hopes to retire soon.
Even though they drive around campus in various vehicles from the maintenance fleet, he said the groundskeepers are supposed to be invisible.
It’s hard to tell whether or not he likes it that way.