by Julie Spears
January 31, 2004
Patterson Ends 27-Year City Run
Bob Patterson, executive director of the Recreation Department and Youth Bureau, is retiring after 27 years.
“The 25 years we have shared together have been quite a moving experience. I mean that in a literal sense,” said Larissa Aldrich of the Recreation and Youth Bureau.
Aldrich clarified her statement with stories of moving to several locations and three stories of moving pianos.
According to Aldrich, the department started out in a house on Main Street, then Washington Avenue, and after their building was demolished they moved the center into City Hall.
“On our first move Bob lost a piano off the back of a truck… Tom Rozumalski and I learned from Bob because we said we were not putting a piano on the top of a truck again. So we borrowed one and we were rolling it down Lark Street in the middle of summer and it started on fire. The wheels caused so much friction it caught on fire,” Aldrich said. The third piano incident was moving a piano to the Light House and having a downpour start after they got it to the pavilion.
Aldrich credited Patterson for his abilities to renovate and remodel various offices in City Hall.
“Now, Bob, you are moving into a new space and it is hard to imagine it all without you. We are happy that you will be able to spend some time with your family,” said Aldrich.
The afternoon was filled with laughter, conversation and memories.
“Thank you for all you have given the community over the years. You are not done moving yet. This is quite a station in life you are making – retirement. You are always welcome here. When you retire you will find you will be busier than when you were here,” said Mayor Richard Frey, who advised him to avoid politics.
Friend and co-worker John Bongiovanni acknowledged the special bond that grew through the years of friendship.
“We made a self-supporting program. He is a great man and I am going to miss him, personally. We have been friends for a really long time,” said Bongiovanni.
Al Zurawski, building inspector, presented Patterson with a retirement “Big Bag” of new tools for the future. The bag included a new pair of work gloves – oven mitts, some new tools – sponges, a scrub brush, and a laundry bag, and something to protect clothes – an apron, and a Bob the Builder Ball for playtime.
Patterson is looking forward to the time with his family and not having to live by the alarm clock. Even in retirement he still plans to be an active member of two boards – the Dunkirk School Board and the Northern Chautauqua Boys and Girls Club.
“Of all the jobs I could have had, I would choose this one again because it is a rewarding job. Our community has lost a lot and now everything has a scheduled time,” said Patterson.
Patterson remembered when the community members filled the beaches in the summer, walked everywhere they went, children spent time playing basketball with friends and creatively making up rules as they went and developing creative problem solving when disagreements arose.
His retirement is preceded by an extended vacation and his official retirement date is March 15.
According to Patterson, Larissa Aldrich and Tom Rozumalski will be filling in for now.
The luncheon meal had pizza, wings, salad, a relish tray and desserts. A special retirement cake was made by Mercy Kawski.