° empty

Viewfinder: Cathedral School crossing guard staying active

Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Crossing guard Johnny Ray Burr, 76, directs traffic on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Road and Aldrich Street Friday afternoon.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Crossing guard Johnny Ray Burr, 76, directs traffic on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Road and Aldrich Street Friday afternoon.

Editor’s note: The Viewfinder is a regular feature where a staff photographer finds a story that highlights the diversity of our community.

NATCHEZ — For more than 20 years, Johnny Ray Burr has known exactly where he’d be standing at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. everyday.

The 76-year-old retired Natchez native directs traffic on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Road and Aldrich Street for Cathedral Elementary School five days a week during the school year.

Burr, who retired from sawmill work, has worked as a janitor then donned the bright yellow vest and gloves of a crossing guard in recent years. He says the work is what keeps him going.

Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Crossing guard Johnny Ray Burr, 76, waves to a passing car as he directs traffic on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Road and Aldrich Street Friday afternoon.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Crossing guard Johnny Ray Burr, 76, waves to a passing car as he directs traffic on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Road and Aldrich Street Friday afternoon.

“If you sit down, you stay down,” Burr said. “It keeps me moving.”

Burr said he enjoys the work and recognizes that he is doing a public service.

“It helps out the traffic during the busy time,” Burr said. “I enjoy looking at the cars.”

Over the years, Burr has gotten to know many of the motorists that navigate that stretch of road, if only by their vehicles.

Burr’s deep roots in his faith are part of his motivation. He is a deacon at Zion Baptist Church, where he has been a member for almost 60 years.

“People wave all day,” Burr said. “I just feel blessed.”