NEW CANAAN — The man credited with bringing green cleaning and beefed-up security to the town’s schools in the wake of Sandy Hook is retiring.

Superintendent Bryan Luizzi met New Canaan schools’ manager of facilities, Bob Willoughby, in an elevator at central office six years ago, when Luizzi and his family, including his two young daughters, were visiting New Canaan for the first time.

“From that moment, I knew you were a quality person who came with knowledge and experience,” Luizzi said during a moment of recognition at Monday’s school board meeting.

Willoughby will be retiring on Friday after six years managing facilities for all of New Canaan’s public schools, dealing with everything from crumbling buildings to late-night pipe bursts. Daniel Clark, who previously worked in Weston public schools and at Greenwich Hospital, will replace Willoughby.

Luizzi said Willoughby’s cool nature helped him handle the school’s maintenance emergencies.

“He’s one of the only people with courage to call my house 1, 2 in morning,” Luizzi said. “I was the one on the other side of the line he was trying to calm down. It’s going to be hard to fill your shoes. We’re better off now than we would be been without you.”

Board Chairwoman Dionna Carlson wished Willoughby a retirement full of “golfing, boating, Tennessee football games and few 4 a.m. calls and hourlong drives in the snow.

“I speak for the entire board when I say we will all miss you dearly. We can’t thank you enough for your commitment to the district.”

First Selectman Rob Mallozzi expressed fondness for Willoughby, recalling how the two met when they were installing basketball units at West School.

“Everyone in our town has hit it off immediately with this gentleman,” Mallozzi said. “You’ve been a real credit to the town.”

Other board members also thanked Willoughby for his service and dedication to the New Canaan schools, describing his work as efficient, effective and swift.

“I always knew whatever you were doing it was best for students,” board member Hazel Hobbs said. “I knew it was a true labor of love.”

After working in maintenance for 50 years, Willoughby, a New Milford resident, said he and his wife are looking forward to moving down to Tennessee, where they bought a house a year-and-a-half ago.

Willoughby leaves with a legacy of implementing green cleaning and added security programs to the schools.

Clark will take over the district’s capital projects, including the Saxe Middle School addition and the remediation of the gym floor at West School. His base salary is $117,000.

“There’s a good staff,” Willoughby said. “I feel confident they’ll keep moving forward with all the good work we’ve done.”

Though Willoughby is looking forward to starting his new life down South, he said he will miss the people of New Canaan.

“I’ve been doing this in some way, shape or form for about 50 years,” he said. “I’ve worked in many, many places. ... It’s pretty much the same work in different spots. The big thing I’m going to miss here is the team effort. Here in New Canaan, it seems to be a great place to live and work. I’ve had nothing but great experiences, and I’ll miss a lot of people.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata