Who would have thought in 1979 when a young man named Joseph Blake was elected as a member of the Board of Selectmen that he would be leaving the position by choice 34 years later?
Town Clerk Patrick O’Sullivan brought up the following fun facts during Wednesday’s Selectmen’s meeting — Blake’s last one of his career.
During the time that Joe was on the Board there have been 6 presidents (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Barack Obama), 6 governors (Ella Grasso, William O’Neil, Lowell Weicker, John Rowland, Jodi Rell, and Dannel Malloy), and 6 Orange First Selectmen.
“And 1 wife,” Blake added.
Selectman Ralph Okenquist said he has served with Joe for 12 years. “You couldn’t ask for a better person. He’s been an advocate for the veterans and loves to support the country,” Okenquist said “At the end of each meeting Joe says, ‘God bless the troops.’”
Selectman Mitch Goldblatt said, “It’s bittersweet saying goodbye. You’re a legend. All the school kids know you.”
A young Joe Blake when he was seated on the Board of Selectmen in 1979.
Goldblatt reminisced, “I remember when you were making your own campaign signs by hand. The art of politics is compromise — you always call for compromise.”
Blake took a moment to thank his fellow selectmen for their kind words and years of friendship. He left them with these words of wisdom, “Don’t listen to your politics, listen to your heart.”
The public service career of Selectman Joe Blake will be celebrated at a retirement party on Friday, Jan. 31 at Grassy Hill Country Club, 441 Clark Lane, at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $60 per person. Dinner choices are baked stuffed chicken, baked scrod, and eggplant parmesan. Reservations may be made through the First Selectman’s Office at Town Hall, 617 Orange Center Road, Orange.
First Selectman Jim Zeoli said this is a non-political, non-partisan town event. Instead of buying a gold watch or other chachki, money will be donated to a charity of Joe Blake’s choice.
We will miss Joe Blake and his presence on the Board of Selectmen. Have a long and happy retirement.