A Fixture of the Building

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Jansson is expert dancer and doorman

By Bonnie Bernstein

Every weekday morning at 5 a.m., 74-year-old Roy Jansson leaves his apartment in City Island, Bronx, where he lives with Livia, his wife of 37 years, to travel to 44 W. 55th St. where he works as a doorman. After a bus ride and two trains, he clocks in punctually at 6:30 a.m., and starts his day at the post he has held for the past 17 years.

In addition to being an excellent doorman, Roy Jansson taught ballroom dancing for 40 years. Photo by Daniel S. Burnstein

He has stayed at the position so long in part, he said, because he likes the residents and has come to know everyone that lives in the building. One of the residents, Diane Borst Berg, says that the people who live there appreciate Jansson, who is something of a fixture in the building, because he is “always on time, does extra for all the tenants without being asked, is always pleasant and seems to love his job.”

In his position, Jansson is a doorman who does some security work as well as help with porter/handyman issues. The lobby is always sparkling clean because of the pride that he takes in its appearance. The mats are out whether it rains or snows. He pitches in to take out the garbage if no else can do it. He helps make sure that the elevator is kept in working order.

“He just takes good care of the building and its tenants in a very caring manner,” Borst said. Jansson even knows where to get knives sharpened and chairs reupholstered at a reasonable price.

Borst remembers how when her husband had knee-replacement surgery, Jansson and his wife came to visit on his day off. To her, that showed the depth of his character and the personal level with which he bonds with the building residents.

Another time, Borst remembers, she asked Jansson to watch the family cat Tigger-doo, whom Roy called Morris because the cat looked like Morris from the TV commercials.

“I asked Roy if he would feed the cat because we’d be away,” she recalled. “Roy agreed. I left a thank you note from “Morris” to “Uncle Roy” with a tip. Roy gladly fed the cat, but did not take the tip left for him. Of course, upon my return I went to the lobby to personally say thank you.”

For Jansson, one of his funniest memories involved a woman who lived on the eighth floor who came down to the lobby one day to report that there was a naked man outside of her window. She had a 3-year-old daughter and the tenant was very upset. He went up to check on the situation and discovered that three rooftops away, there was a man sunbathing in the nude. Jansson handled the problem by calling 911, and once again, thanks to him, the problem was solved.

Not only is Jansson an excellent doorman, he is also an expert ballroom dancer. The Westchester native met his wife while dancing and was a professional ballroom dance teacher for 40 years. The pair still competes in salsa dancing and are known figures for that throughout New York and New Jersey. They have appeared on Univision, at the Apollo Theatre and performed in Havana, Cuba, in 2001 on invitation.

His proudest achievement is his three children. Jacqueline, 37, is in the USAF Reserves. She lives in Burlington, Conn., with husband, Bobby, who is retired from the USAF Reserves. They have a 10-year-old daughter, Alyssa. Jansson’s son, Dexter, 35, is a financial manager who resides in Charlotte, N.C., with wife, Kimberley, and 10-week-old daughter, Kenley. Jansson’s youngest daughter, Janelle, 33, of Bridgeport, teaches autistic children in the Bronx and Westchester.

Jansson also has two brothers. His twin brother, Ernest, is retired and lives in Tom’s River, N.J., while his younger brother, Walter, is also retired and lives in Monticello, N.Y.

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