Suburbanites hold Guinness records for career longevity, Hacky Sack, playing catch

Everyday he arrives at Woodland Middle School, social studies teacher Paul Durietz makes history. That's because each day he adds on to his official Guinness World Record for longest career teaching social studies, which now stands at more than 53 years.

Durietz, 72, doesn't plan to make it easier for someone else to break his record by retiring.

"The only way I would retire would be if I physically cannot teach," Durietz said.

For years, he said, friends and family would marvel at his career longevity and wonder aloud if his tenure was some kind of record. So he reached out to the organization and in 2021, Guinness World Record judges first declared that indeed it was.

Durietz said he is proud of the record and what he has accomplished. He attributes his career longevity to his passion for teaching.

"It's not a job it's a way of life," Durietz said.

Guinness World Record books have been the definitive source on world records of all kinds since 1955. Many suburbanites have earned their place either in a published annual volume or on the official world record website through feats of strength or displays of skill.

Greg Wittstock of St. Charles owns Aqualand Way and is perhaps best known on YouTube as The Pond Guy for the epic water features he creates for customers, including celebrities like Shaquille O'Neal. In October 2019 he set a record not for designing a pond but by submerging himself in one when he did 62 underwater bench presses. And because the record disallowed breathing apparatuses, Wittstock had to do it in one big breath.

The most common way to play with a Hacky Sack, the small round sack usually filled with plastic pellets or sand also known as a footbag, is to stand around in a circle and try to keep it up. On June 14, 1997, Ted Martin of Des Plaines went to Lions Park in Mount Prospect and kicked a footbag a record 63.326 times without letting it touch the ground. The record-setting effort took 8 hours, 50 minutes and 42 seconds, Guinness judges said.

Some records require would-be winners to forgo one of their senses to bring an added degree of difficulty to an otherwise approachable game. Guinness says a man named Jason Sander set the record for longest cornhole shot while blindfolded on Sept. 5, 2022 in Winnetka. Sander sank the shot from 45 feet away, more than double the distance required in a regulation cornhole game and around the equivalent of a half-court shot in basketball.

Often world records are set when a big group comes together for a good cause. On June 18, 2017, thousands of people gathered at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington for a Father's Day-themed event to have a game of catch. In all, Guinness judges counted 972 pairs of people playing catch that day, which beat the previous record set when 529 pairs played catch at an event during the lead-up to MLB All-Star Week in Cincinnati in July 2015.

Some records in the Guinness book are based on physical traits. Like Baby the snake, a Burmese python who spent most of her life at the old Serpent Safari at Gurnee Mills. After Baby died, she was measured and Guinness judges certified her to be the longest of her species ever recorded at 18 feet 10 inches.

Another suburban animal with an infant's name made the list after a long life; Baby Jane the pig who was raised by owners Patrick Cunningham and Stanley Coffman in Mundelein. Baby Jane was adopted from a local pig rescue and led an active life of volunteering, even starring in a drag show, according to her owners.

After 23 years and 121 days, Baby Jane died, which Guinness says made her the oldest pig in captivity ever.

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