Beloved Fox Point garbage man gets emotional sendoff: 'He's a legend'

Picking up garbage might not be glamorous, but a Fox Point village worker is leaving behind quite the legacy.

Neighbors said they'd make a point to be home when collector Steve Schulteis would come by to take their trash. He'd have things like treats for dogs or buy families pizzas when a baby was born.

During his last work week, families put up smiley faces all over his route ahead of an emotional last day on Thursday, June 29.

"I think he’s a legend," said Sharon Madnek.

Simple, everyday actions can pile up into something much greater.

"Steve was like, the best of the best," said Madnek. "Right now, I’m just feeling sad because I think it’s the end of an era."

Steve Schulteis

As Schulteis went to leave his Fox Point Department of Public Works job for the last time, people whose houses he’d visit every day surprised the garbage collector by coming to him.

"It’s overwhelming, and I have to tell you, the appreciation is unbelievable," said Schulteis. "The kindness in this village is like, I can’t even explain it. It’s pretty powerful. It is."

When he’d pick up trash, Schulteis would treasure the moments.

"Oh my God, words do not describe how and what they meant to me," said Schulteis. "It’s just crazy good."

Steve Schulteis

He built relationships with families he easily could have never met.

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"It’s like, getting invited to block parties, that’s a super special thing," he said. "Getting invited to birthday parties and getting pictures of moms that had babies."

During his last week, smiley faces popped up all over the neighborhood.

"It was just heart-warming because there was, there’s probably 1,000 of them out there," he said.

Steve Schulteis

"He made every single person he saw feel like the only person," said Madnek. "I honestly thought I was the only person he ever gave a hug to until I found him hugging one of my best friends, and I called him a cheater."

Schulteis is known not for what he’d take away but what he would leave behind.

Including lessons like this:

"How kindness touches people and how it comes back at you," said Madnek.

Steve Schulteis

"I always say if you be kind, people will be kind in return," said Schulteis. "There’s no doubt about it."

Steve worked for DPW for 37 years. He said he wishes he could do another 37 years.

"My wife got me through all this because this is really hard to do, so hats off to her," Schulties said. "She was pretty special through this whole deal."