For thousands of girls who attended The Hockaday School for the past 30 years, Kifleab Tekle was one of the first people they remembered meeting in preschool or kindergarten.
The genial security officer also was among the last who bid them farewell upon graduation from the Dallas, Texas, private school.
“Even after I went back to campus after college, he still knew my name and who I was and would ask about my sisters and family and everyone else,” said Abby Hoak-Morton, a 2005 grad.
Tekle, affectionately referred to as “Kief” on campus, retires from Hockaday on Friday.
When Hoak-Morton first heard the news in an April 1 email, she initially thought it was an April Fool’s joke.
After realizing it wasn’t, she and some former classmates decided to get Tekle a retirement gift. The original plan was for the Class of 2005 to give him a $2,005 check.
But once word spread about the GoFundMe account they had set up, alumnae from other years wanted to pitch in, along with parents and even current students.
By Monday, when the school had a private farewell ceremony for Tekle, the fund had raised more than $185,000.
Nearly 2,000 people made contributions.
“Obviously the dollar amount is great, but I think what was so exciting for him is the amount of people who gave,” Moak-Horton said.