By JEN CARDINES
Town officials, residents, and family of the town’s first Town Manager gathered at the front entrance of the municipal building under a rainy sky for an unveiling.
On Thursday, Oct. 13, officials held a dedication ceremony for the newly-named John Weichsel Municipal Center, named to honor Southington’s first Town Manager. The ceremony made it official.
John Weichsel served as Town Manager for 50 years, first in the small village of Ellenville, N.Y., and after moving his family to Southington, he held the Town Manager title from 1966 until his retirement in early 2011. In total, he served over 50 years as a town manager, but his 44 years serving Southington set a national record as the longest tenure with one community.
Town Council chair Michael Riccio and Board of Education chair Brian Goralski made short speeches at the event, followed by Weichsel’s family members, and a proclamation from General Assembly members.
Each shared personal stories about the sometimes unkempt and gruff manager that always seemed to hold Southington’s needs before his own. They talked about his community ties, his knowledge and experience, and his love of local sports.
“I can count on two hands the people in my adult life, politically and professionally, that influenced me,” Riccio said, “but the person that comes out at the top of the list for me is John Weichsel. It’s a great honor to say that.”
“I don’t think we’re going to see another leader in this country serve one community for 40 plus years,” said Goralski. “I’m quite honored that we get to serve and do our duties in a building that will be named after him.”
State senator Joe Markley, along with representatives Dave Zoni and Rob Sampson, presented a framed proclamation from the General Assembly.
Weichsel’s wife Dolores, son Barry, and daughter Amy were all present for the dedication. They each spoke about their experience moving to Southington and how growing up in town affected their lives, and their father’s.
“It’s not everyday that a building gets named after someone,” said Amy. “You have to do something very special and be a very upright citizen. I’m so proud that the town is giving my father this very great and special honor.”
Barry later recalled the night at the Aqua Turf Club, where his father’s retirement dinner took place. “He said that was the best night of his life,” said his son, “and if he were alive, he’d say this was.”
John Weichsel served as the first, and longest town manager in Southington, succeeded by Garry Brumback. “It is an honor to follow in such a distinguished gentleman’s footsteps,” said Brumback. “The idea of naming a government building after an extraordinary public server is absolutely appropriate.”
The signs on the building and at the street now carry Weichsel’s name. The proclamation will remain on display in the main hall.
Photos by JOHN GORALSKI