By Melody Burri
Bristol town supervisor and retired Ontario County sheriff’s deputy talks about life, career and looking ahead
Q: Your roots run deep. Tell us about growing up in Bristol.
A: I’m a farm kid at heart, just making his way through this journey called life. I was born and raised on a small dairy farm in Bristol, one of three siblings. Some of life’s most valuable lessons came from being on that farm.
I’m married to Linda Wilcox Green and we have two children. Rob is retired from the United States Marine Corps and was combat wounded. Abbey has served for 14 years in the United States Navy.
Q: You’ve enjoyed a long, multifaceted career. What are some of the roles you’ve played?
A: Beside being a dad and husband and working on the family farm, I’m the Bristol town supervisor and I chair the Ontario County Public Safety Committee. I also spent 30 years with the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, was chief paramedic at Soldiers and Sailors Hospital for seven years, served as senior police instructor with the Office of Homeland Security, and served on the board of directors for the Partnership of Ontario County. I’m a member of the Ontario County Historical Society, the Rochester Theater Organ Society and the New York Farm Bureau. I was a long-haul and local truck driver in the northeast with KJ Transportation, which later became Leonard’s Express. I also accompanied a local youth group to the island of Haiti for aid and medical relief in 2000, and coordinated transportation needs for relief supplies to Turkey from Rochester to JFK in New York following the 1999 earthquake.
Q: You’ve also kept busy with a number of hobbies. Tell us about some of them.
A: Music has become more and more of a passion. I enjoy playing organ in our little church. I also love old farm tractors, the Steam Pageant, the Adirondack Mountains, volunteering with the Bristol Volunteer Fire Department, with Blue Star Dads and Bristol Fundays.
Q: What moments stand out and bring a smile to your face as you look back over decades of service?
A: Assisting an elderly widow in a downpour who had a flat tire. I changed it for her and she took the time to write a thank you note to then-Sheriff Ed Guinan.
Driving my assigned patrol car to deliver groceries, a Christmas tree and toys to a single mother—the victim of domestic violence — and her two small children.
Taking small farm animals to Camp Good Days and Special Times when it was located on West Lake Road in Canandaigua. Oh, and watching our children take their first bike rides.
Q: Have you faced any unexpected challenges along the way?
A: Public service has challenges in and of itself. I think all leaders do find themselves caught in between diametrically opposing points of views on many subjects. Finding a middle ground becomes the challenge, especially when the word ‘compromise’ becomes a non-starter.
But you can’t please everyone, so be as fair as possible with all considerations and move forward. Meet those moments with reason and logic knowing that you did the best as could be expected. And also know that sometimes you’re going to have to say ‘no.’
Q: What’s your secret for making the most of this chapter of your life?
A: Stay active! Take walks, visit friends, go to the gym, meet challenges, take some college courses, enjoy the sunrise, have a glass of red wine, split some firewood, listen to Chopin, Beethoven or Bach. And then listen to some bluegrass and country-western music! Also, keep up with technology, it keeps the mind sharp.
Q: What core value has served you well over the years and still stands the test of time?
A: Know that you will give the best you can. Believe in yourself and those you trust. And remember that life likes to throw us a curveball, so throw it right back.
As author and businessman Harvey Mackay wrote: “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”
So choose what is important now and decide what the impacts will be. We are granted just so many sunrises.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: The world needs more music, more model trains, more red tractors and more red wine. So following that train of thought, I want to learn to play the accordion. And now that I own two red Farmall tractors, I need to own a John Deere. In general, I’m filling the bucket list and then finding the means to empty it.