Officials say goodbye to retiring Oldsmar City Manager Bruce Haddock

Oldsmar City Council members bid farewell to retiring City Manager Bruce Haddock during Haddock’s final council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.    (L-R Jerry Beverland, Mayor Doug Bevis, Gabby McGee, Bruce and Retha Haddock, Eric Seidel and Dan Saracki.)

Over the last several months, retiring Oldsmar City Manager Bruce Haddock has received numerous awards and accolades as his 40-plus year career in local government wound down.

Haddock, who is retiring October 1 after 31 years as Oldsmar’s City Manager, one of the longest such tenures in state history, has been recognized by local lawmakers and national organizations alike, and last Tuesday, a special ceremony was held in his honor where he received recognition from each.

Oldsmar City Manager Bruce Haddock (r) is presented with an American flag that flew over the White House from US Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) prior to Haddock’s last meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. (City of Oldsmar.)

During the informal event, Haddock was presented with: a resolution from the Florida City and County Management Association (FCCMA) by Kenneth City Town Manager Matt Campbell for his “lifetime commitment to public service”; an American flag that was flown at the White House from US Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12); and a street sign that read “Haddock Trail” from Oldsmar City Council members.

After the one-hour ceremony, Haddock sat in his traditional spot on the dais, to the right of Mayor Doug Bevis, for his final City Council meeting, and by the end of the evening, not even the typically stoic Haddock could keep his eyes dry.

“You’ve been an amazing City Manager and friend, and you and Retha are just…” Council member Gabby McGee trailed off, wiping tears as she searched for words to express thanks to Haddock and his wife.

“I just appreciate all of your guidance and wisdom and just what an outstanding human being that you are.”

“I just want to say it’s been great with you sitting up here, and it’s gonna be a little weird not having you up here,” Vice-Mayor Dan Saracki added.

“Your leadership, I’m gonna miss that. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done.”

Bruce Haddock got emotional during his final meeting as Oldsmar City Manager on Sept. 19, 2017.

Council member Eric Seidel praised Haddock’s straight-to-the-point style, stating “I’ve always appreciated that and I’ve absolutely respected it. I’ve always been a fan of yours, even when we didn’t agree.”

Mayor Bevis, who has always credited Haddock with playing a vital role in the city’s growth, explained how Haddock’s influence helped him as a citizen and elected official.

“I think it’s a testament to the leadership you brought, not only for me a resident and a taxpayer but as a council member and the mayor of the city, you give us some great tools to work with as council members,” Bevis said.

“As Eric said, we don’t necessarily always agree on everything, but I think we appreciate and respect everybody’s opinion why when they don’t.”

After relating a story about how well the council and other city officials get along, going so far as to form a human pyramid in the middle of a convention center, the mayor concluded his speech.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart, as a resident and a council member, for everything that you’ve done,” Bevis said. “Hopefully the next chapter for you and for Retha is just blessed for you guys.”

Oldsmar City officials enjoy a few last laughs with City Manager Bruce Haddock on the dais beside them on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.

Following similar comments and well-wishes from City Attorney Tom Trask, City Clerk Ann Nixon and Assistant City Clerk Kathy Horvath, Haddock made some closing remarks.

“It’s been a great run, and it’s good time for me to be retiring,” he said. “The City is in very good condition financially, and every other way.”

Haddock praised the “very capable staff” for its tireless work during Hurricane Irma, and he managed to say “I appreciate all the compliments this evening, and the recognition and awards and the reception. I enjoyed that and I appreciate it” before he started getting choked up.

Bruce Haddock brings the gavel down on his 31-year career as Oldsmar City Manager on Sept. 19, 2017.

At that point, the control room played a video highlighting some of the memorable moments from Bruce’s 30-plus year career, and the tears flowed freely from all corners of the Council Chambers as Van Morrison’s soulful “These Are The Days” played over the snapshots.

Following the slideshow, Haddock brought the gavel down on the 741st and final meeting of his long, storied career, and hugs and handshakes flowed just as freely as the tears.

Haddock’s successor, longtime City employee Al Braithwaite, will take office on Monday, October 2, 2017. Haddock will continue to be employed by the City through January 2018, working from home in an advisory capacity.

A final, private farewell ceremony for Haddock is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 29 in the Nielsen dining hall.

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