By Melody Burris
Retired Farmington town supervisor describes himself as ‘a retired person who is living the dream’
Q: Of your many career achievements, which has been the most fulfilling?
A: Several that come to mind — I’m proud of my 22 years in the Air Force and the two tours of duty (about 10 years) with the US Air Force Recruiting Service. We faced some big challenges during the Vietnam War with all the protesting and antiwar sentiment. I remember one protester standing with his sign outside the Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station. I felt sorry for him, alone in the cold. I invited him in to warm up with a hot cup of coffee. I think he appreciated it because from that point on he always greeted me with a friendly ‘Hi Sarge.’ I later found out he was a veteran with some medical issues.
Then years later, on my first day as Farmington town supervisor I thought to myself, ‘OK, now what should I do?’ My secretary came in with the morning mail and we reviewed the correspondence as she made some suggestions. I started the process of routing the mail with notes on actions. That secretary who guided me on the office routines is the elected town clerk today.
By the time I left office, the town’s general fund had no debt and we had approximately $5 million in the bank. We were able to pay cash for capital projects other towns might normally have to finance, like a highway garage that will last for decades, a state-of-theart town court facility, an upgraded wastewater treatment plant that serves Farmington, Victor and parts of Canandaigua, and an expanded salt barn that provides ample enough local storage to carry us through the most difficult winter.
Q: How has your own life changed since retiring?
A: “The pace in which I go through the daily routines has slowed down. I still have appointments and we are lucky to have our children and grandchildren in the area so we can watch the grandkids grow up. In retirement we thought it was too quiet at times so we adopted a cat from a local cat rescue organization and she has taken a prominent place in our home and our hearts.
Q: What was one unexpected retirement challenge you encountered, and how are you dealing with it?
A: When you are a town supervisor, you’re used to working 10 to 12 hour days with meetings, dinner events, training sessions and roughly 20 to 40 incoming or outgoing phone calls a day. When you retire, all of a sudden that stops. I didn’t realize that and knew I had to find a way to transition somehow.
Before I became a town supervisor, I taught at community colleges, so I applied for an adjunct faculty job at Finger Lakes Community College teaching in the business department. The lesson plan preparation, composing quizzes and examinations, arranging for a guest speaker now and then and, of course, teaching twice a week kept me busy. It was a great transition for me, and I enjoyed it.
I also did some training sessions for area county governments and notfor-profits off and on for several years. And I sit on the board of a veterans’ organization and serve on the board of ethics for a local government.
Q: What advice would you give to others entering and looking to thrive in retirement?
A: Have a plan ready for after you’ve rested for a while. How are you going to adjust? All the thingsthat were part of your daily life are not there, so what are you going to do with all that energy? Slowing down can be very difficult.
Q: What’s one core value that has served you well through your career and into retirement?
A: Never stop learning. Continue to improve your knowledge base and don’t be afraid to explore an unfamiliar subject or course or discussion.
Also, my dear wife, Rosalie (Rosemary), has been at my side helping, coaching me, advising me and, yes, even prodding me throughout ‘our’ career. She was my campaign manager when I first ran for town supervisor and was elected. I remember when I was in part-time grad school while working full-time she would always make sure I was
ready for class.