Faces of CNM: Terry Bonesteel

Ever notice how clean and tidy CNM’s Main Campus looks? You have people like Terry to thank.
Faces of CNM: Terry Bonesteel

Aug 22, 2018

Most people who use the CNM sidewalks just step over loose rocks that have migrated onto the pavement. But not Terry Bonesteel, a Groundskeeper on Main Campus. Everywhere he goes he finds himself kicking those rocks back where they came from. He can’t help it.

“If something is out of place, something could happen,” Terry says. “If someone in heels steps on those rocks, they could break an ankle.”

It’s that kind of attention to detail, and commitment to service, that’s made Terry—who’s 63— one of the crew’s most respected members. For more than six years now he’s been methodically working all over campus to ensure the grounds are beautiful, safe, and functional.

Each day brings something new. His team is charged with everything from emptying trash bins, to trimming branches that might block signs, to mowing lawns, to cleaning graffiti. Terry says the only constant he can ever really count on is pulling weeds. Thanks to the strong monsoons that have rolled through Albuquerque, giant weeds are constantly popping up.

“Even if most of my day is taken up by some bigger project, I’ll pick a spot and pull weeds for at least a couple hours,” he says half laughing, half groaning.

Terry says it’s easy to get lost in the minutia of a project, but he always likes to step back and think about the larger picture, too. He wants students to notice the work and take pride in the fact that CNM campuses are clean and comfortable places to learn.

“I know that if students are willing to make the effort to come here, they want to take pride in their school,” he says. “They don’t want to go to an ugly college.”

Most of the time Terry just goes about his job, but he really appreciates it when students or employees recognize what he and the crew are doing to keep the campus safe and clean.

“A ‘thank you’ always means a lot,” he says.

Working outside has always been in Terry’s blood. He mowed lawns starting at 10. When he was 20, he got a good-paying manufacturing job but only lasted eight months because he couldn’t stand being inside.  

Nowadays, Terry goes through his day at a furious pace and jokes that even though he’s the second oldest groundskeeper, he can still out-work any of the younger guys on the crew. But he also knows his time will soon be up. He has a pinched nerve and artery in his neck and also suffered a small stroke. He’ll finish out the year, but will likely retire in 2019.

“I don’t want to retire, but I can feel my injuries getting worse and worse,” he says.

Once he retires, Terry will still be busy. He and his wife are raising their grandson and are licensed foster parents so they can take in more kids down the road. He also takes care of his mom and has ducks and dogs to feed, house projects to work on, and laundry to wash.

“I’m not that worried,” he says. “There’s a long list of stuff to do.”