After 55 years, I’m outa work

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

In the past several weeks, Debbie and I have attended several youth basketball games to watch our grandchildren play. She seems to really enjoy telling the ticket-taker that we need two passes — one for an adult and one for a senior. She tends to smile and jerk her thumb in my direction when she says … a senior.

It’s true. Now that I am well into my 67th year, I am undeniably and proudly a senior citizen. Having hit this milestone, it’s fun to look back over those many years.

Another reason I enjoy looking back is that next week, with the beginning of January, I will, for the first time since I was 12 years old, be officially unemployed.

A new year is a good time to look forward … and to look back. We all have plans. We also have life history and employment history that we can look back and remember, either fondly or painfully.

I have been blessed to have, mainly, fond memories. Take a few minutes and look back at your own history.

Here is part of mine.

When I was 12, I got a job. Technically, I was employed by Cox Newspapers, the folks that published the Dayton Journal-Herald. I was part of their distribution system – a paperboy.

My early morning paper route usually allowed me to be finished by sunrise. That gave me time for other jobs — shoveling snow, mowing lawns and being a farmhand. But, I consider Cox to be my first real employer.

I find it interesting that for the past six years I have volunteered to write these weekly columns for our local newspaper. So now, in my retirement, I can still call the editor of a newspaper my boss.

From paperboy to columnist. I like that. Full circle.

After a full year in college, I realized I needed some real-life experience before deciding on a career. It took three months of working at the old Delco Products factory in downtown Dayton to convince me that I needed to work with people, not machines.

Discovering healthcare and landing a position in a respiratory therapy training program at Miami Valley Hospital was the best thing that ever happened to me. In April of 1970, I started my career that lasted 35 years.

My career in healthcare ended when I retired from Clinton Memorial Hospital 15 years ago. My title at the time was Director of Respiratory Therapy/EMS and Trauma Services. One of my responsibilities was to serve as the county EMS coordinator. I started that part of my job in 1987 and continued part-time for a few years after my retirement.

Just a few years before I retired from CMH, I answered the call to public service. I agreed to work part-time with the City of Wilmington as the Public Safety Director, in charge of police, fire, EMS and dispatch.

Nearly a year after my retirement, several friends and people I respect convinced me to run for political office. In November of 2004, I won countywide election to become one of our Clinton County Commissioners.

My work in respiratory therapy continued for a short while longer. After 9-11, I joined a federal Disaster Medical Assistant Team (DMAT-OH 5) as one of their respiratory therapist.

Following the team’s deployment to Biloxi after Hurricane Katrina and as a newly elected county commissioner, I realized that my first obligation, in a national or local disaster, needed to be here in Clinton County. As a result, after several years, I resigned from the FEMA DMAT Team.

There has been a lot of overlap in what I’ve been blessed to be able to do; 35 years in healthcare, 15 years as county EMS coordinator, seven years as county commissioner, 10 years as a pyrotechnician with Rozzi’s, five years as city safety director, five years with FEMA, four years as city mayor and two years as president of city council.

I’ve always enjoyed working. Anyone with a job should be proud of what they do. As with most jobs, there have been a lot of demands. It’s been exciting. It’s been fulfilling. At times, it’s been tiring.

For the next several years, I’m going to focus on being Husband, Dad and Pappy. There are a few organizations I still want to work with. I’ll be on a few boards and volunteer for a few projects, but it will be on my terms and not as a paid employee. I’m looking forward to that.

For the time being, I’ll keep writing for the Wilmington News Journal because I enjoy it. Since I won’t be writing as President of Council of Wilmington, my editor will have to figure out what to call me.

Editor’s Note: Randy Riley is former Mayor of Wilmington and a resident of the city for more than 40 years. And we at the News Journal are very happy to call him our friend and we’re grateful for all he does for the community. And for the fact that he works cheap.

Randy Riley

Contributing columnist