Printer Friendly Version

Village Vision News

Former mayor reflects on time spent in office, looks ahead to retirement

Thursday, May 30, 2013

After decades of service to the Village of Forsyth, it was time to say goodbye.

For former Mayor Harold “Hap” Gilbert, his last official moments as mayor were not without emotion as the outgoing board was adjourned and the new one sworn in and welcomed, along with new Mayor Marilyn Johnson at the May 6 Village Board meeting.

Johnson began her duties by taking a few minutes to thank Gilbert for his service and then presented him with an appropriate keepsake, a hammer and gavel, in addition to a plaque.

Gilbert, who served as a trustee for 22 years and mayor for 12 years, said that he first wondered some 34 years ago just “what it was a Village Trustee did.” After a while, he had the thought, “You know, I think I could do this.”

It wasn’t too long before he found that he “got hooked on municipal government. It becomes almost addicting,” he said. “And, there are no small decisions; they’re all important.”

Village Administrator Mike Miller thanked him for all his help in making Miller’s own transition to municipal government from the private sector go more smoothly, saying that he couldn’t have done it without Gilbert’s help and knowledge.

Gilbert spoke of the many trustees and mayors he had served with over the years, remarking, “I’ve learned something from each of them.”

He wished the new mayor and the new board the best of luck as he predicted a lot of new things coming this year.

He advised that they “work regionally. Sometimes we are adversaries with the city of Decatur, but there are great people in the city of Decatur, and we need to work together so that they succeed and we succeed.”

Gilbert was emotional, even a bit tearful, as he spoke of his wife and children and the sacrifices they’d made in supporting his public life for so many years.

He plans to make up for some lost time with his wife of 54 years, Donna, and their seven grandchildren, who all live nearby. He and Donna are in the antique business, so they might “make a trip or two to look for treasures.”

His immediate plans also call for some important outdoor activities that he’s neglected the last decade or so, he said.

“I keep saying, since I retired from Caterpillar 10 years ago, that I’m going to play more golf and fish more,” Gilbert said. “I haven’t yet, but hopefully I will.”

And, as he spoke to all those gathered at Village Hall, the now former mayor could do nothing to conceal his civic pride when he said, “There are no villages like Forsyth.”

^ Back to Top ^

Site by HomeSight, LLC