Remembering Carlos Castellanos

Remembering Carlos Castellanos
Remembering Carlos Castellanos
By Bryan Garman

The longtime friend of the School worked in Facilities at Sidwell Friends for 43 years.

Carlos Castellanos left his mark on Sidwell Friends. It wasn’t just that he had an unparalleled work ethic or that he was friendly (though both are true); Castellanos was a true member of the Sidwell Friends community. In fact, the Class of 1995 dedicated their yearbook to him as someone “who matters most to Sidwell Friends” (see below). He was beloved by students, faculty, staff, and families. “He was truly one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I have known, and his service to the School was exemplary,” says Head of School Bryan Garman. “He loved the community deeply and dearly, and his openness made it easy to love him back. It was impossible to have an encounter with Carlos and not feel better about the world.”

Carlos emigrated from Guatemala in the late 1970s and soon after began his career at Sidwell Friends. Despite not speaking the language, Castellanos so ingratiated himself to the students that one devoted his entire senior project to the task of teaching Castellanos English. It worked. And in return, Castellanos spoke to students studying Spanish in his mother tongue, allowing them to practice their conversational skills.

“Two seemingly contrasting but equally important characteristics undergirded Carlos’s unparalleled work ethic: a palpable confidence, grounded in his immense physical strength, that no job was too big; and a profound humility, rooted in a sense of service, that no job was too small,” Garman says. “In every action, Carlos conveyed dignity and decency, courage and compassion, demonstrating that these traits are not mutually exclusive, but mutually reinforcing.”

Castellanos was genuinely interested in everyone in the Sidwell Friends community. When Castellanos retired, longtime Lower School teacher Carol Borut, wrote, “He knew the faculty, students, and parents by name, and they knew and appreciated him.” What’s more, his jack-of- all-trades skill set extended far beyond the Facilities team. As Borut put it: “The day he was invited to visit and play his saxophone for the kindergarten class won him a group of new friends and respect for his patience, humor, and diverse talents.”

Castellanos died after a long battle with cancer, which placed him in Howard University Hospital shortly after his retirement in 2020. With the support of the Sidwell Friends community, he returned to his native Guatemala City, where his daughter cared for him in his final days. Please hold Castellanos in the Light. His legacy will be felt at Sidwell Friends for years to come.

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