It was one day past his last as a department head in Rumson. On New Year's Day, an officially retired John Hird sat quietly and smiled through what, for him, was a farewell reorganization ceremony as a borough staff member.
Hird had spent many years dedicating himself to borough recreation, in both full- and part-time capacities. The last eight years, though, he spent as Rumson's full-time supervisor of Parks and Recreation/director of Recreation, which he called "a wonderful job and a great run!" in the resignation letter he penned to the governing body and residents not long ago.
Reminiscing about Hird's recereational run with the town, Mayor John Ekdahl recently called the post "the most difficult job in Rumson."
And so the mayor and governing body recognized Hird for doing that job well on what was his first day off the job.
Ekdahl has many memories of Hird, which he gladly revisited before the reorganization. One — the start-line of the Hird run — stood out in his mind.
"He started the job as a part-time employee when Rumson did not have nearly as many sports or participants," the mayor said. "I will never forget the day now deceased Councilman Tre Rowse called me in Florida during the Daytona 500 and said, 'We better offer John Hird a full-time position or he is going to Red Bank for that opening.' The offer was made and we never looked back."
Looking forward, once again, Ekdahl said that Hird has left his mark with a new Rumson Recreation website, which, he said, makes involvement in borough recreation very convenient for residents. The site "is now interactive to the point of accepting registration fees," the mayor said.
Hird's replacement has not yet been chosen, but will be soon, Ekdahl said.
If you have not already seen it, below is Hird's retirement letter:
I would like to personally thank all of you for your continued support and all you do for the children in our community.
It is truly amazing how many programs we have including all of the sports, summer camps, summer playground, crew, summer concerts, Halloween parade, and so on ... In addition to all of these wonderful activities, we have incredible parks for our players and community members.
All of this is possible because of your commitment under the direction of a fine Mayor and Council, Borough Administrator and his staff, Recreation Commission, Department of Public Works and all of the residents who have supported recreation for many years.
I have always said that my volunteer coaches are true heroes for all that they do and I have been honored to serve you all of these years.
I have served both as a part-time director for many years and the last eight years as a full-time director of recreation. It is extremely difficult to leave a job for which I have so much passion and love; however, that is exactly how I want to end my career.
I have truly been blessed to have met so many wonderful people in this town and I have every intention of remaining here to enjoy all that it has to offer its residents. I will be 65 years old next year and I am fortunate at this time to have my health and energy to enjoy life.
My wife recently retired and we look forward to enjoying our many activities and interests. Most importantly, though, is to enjoy our two children and our five grandchildren.
I truly believe the recreation programs and facilities are in great shape for a smooth transition.
This has been a wonderful job and a great run! Thank you for embracing this program and most importantly for all you do for our children. I have the utmost respect for all of you.
John R. Hird