It was supposed to be a party, but friends and colleagues of City Administrator John Roche celebrated with heavy hearts.
After 10 years in Winslow's politics and an additional 31 with the city of Anaheim, Calif., Roche retired from public life last Friday to spend more time with his wife, Karen, in their new motor home.
Administrative Assistant Susi Kaufman rates Roche as one of her two best bosses ever.
"I hope the community doesn't have to realize how much they're going to miss him," she said.
Roche has served as City Administrator since 2000 but started in 1995 as the Development Services Director. Along with those two positions, he also serves as Economic Development Director for Winslow. Roche signed a two-year contract in August, the first ever for a City Administrator, despite the objections of 205 citizens on a signed petition.
His detractors have publicly criticized him for allegedly undermining the Renaissance on Route 66 project and for being difficult to work with on other projects.
But Roche's co-workers and his bosses -- City Council -- said that more projects have begun under him then in any time they could remember and he gets them done.
Roche's decisiveness on undertakings is what Mayor Jim Boles said the city would miss most of all.
"When he first came here, there was more than $1 million in HURF (Highway User Revenue Fund) funds but nothing was being done with the streets," Boles said. "He said his first responsibility was to spend a million dollars on streets the next year. And we redid every street."
As for who will fill Roche's shoes, Council members held an executive session yesterday morning to interview two candidates for the position and considered appointing an interim Administrator.