Steve Aikin, former MSU alumnus and Michigan State University Alumni Memorial Chapel sexton, attended the first class that underwent all three grades of their new high school in his hometown of Waverly.
After college, Aikin attended a three-year master’s degree program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School on a path to pursuing ministry. However, after completing one year of the program Aikin decided that he didn’t want to continue ministry and dropped out.
“After I dropped out the question was if you’re not going to do that, what are you going to do?” Aikin said.
He began to take courses at MSU and Lansing Community College with the idea of attending medical school but shortly dropped out as well.
After then, Aikin got married and adopted his wife’s two children.
“My big priority at that point was I got to provide for my family,” Aikin said. “So I applied for various jobs, and I was able to get a job at MSU cleaning restrooms all day.”
Six months later, Aikin was moved to MSU Food Stores at McDonel Hall.
At work, Aikin noticed a poster advertising a truck driver at the MSU Bakers and decided to take that position for the following 25 years.
Aikin looks back on his truck driving job and recalls a saying from Thomas Dutch, Housing and Food Service personnel administrator: find a job you really like and you will have worked for the last time in your life.
“I loved that job,” Aikin said. “Because it’s not work anymore, you enjoy it enough. … Truck driving at the bakery was that way.”
While finishing up a delivery, Aikin noticed a note directed toward him to call Mark Simmons, assistant manager at the MSU Union.
“The first thought that went through my mind was, ‘Oh brother, what on that delivery to the MSU Union, what did I screw up,’” Aikin said.
Because the chapel was under Simmon’s management, he told Aikin about the new job as sexton. Aikin then applied to the position and began the job with an array of responsibilities that pertained to the appearance of the chapel.
Aikin recited a verse from the bible in Psalms 23: make the Lord Jesus your shepherd, and He will lead you to green pastures.
“I feel very humble by what happened in my life because careerwise it didn’t start out all that well,” Aikin said. “Coming from what I would call a white-collar family, I can’t fully express my appreciation for people who get up every day, they clean up, they go to work and they put in a full day’s work doing a labor job… I have a high respect for people that strive to do whatever level of work they’re doing.”
Aikin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and his wife has Alzheimer’s, but the couple decided to be transparent and open about their neurological diseases.
“We’ve somehow survived all these years of marriage and still love each other,” Aikin joked. “I like not having responsibility now because with the two jobs combined I always felt like something was going to happen, good or bad, and something to deal with.”
Along with his wife, Aikin enjoys traveling and plans to spend time in Florida next winter.
“The nice thing about retiring and retirement age is you have the time and hopefully you have the money to travel and just kind of have a second childhood of your life and hopefully you have someone to do that with,” Aikin said.
Now retired, Aikin and his wife enjoy taking walks, watching TV and looks back on his work and the community around him positively. Most importantly, Aikin always makes sure to have his wife’s coffee ready every single morning.
“I would describe myself as a very boring person, but you know life can be boringly good,” Aikin said. “God has been extremely good to me. MSU was very, very good to me, and the people that I worked for and the people I worked with were extremely good to me.”
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