MONMOUTH — When Herb Whittier told a friend who used to work for him on the town’s public works crew that he was retiring, he was met with disbelief.

“You can’t retire,” the friend told Whittier. “You’re not dead.”

Whittier, 69, who joined the public works department in 1969, announced during Wednesday’s selectmen’s meeting that he will indeed retire on Nov. 14.

“I think after 44 years it’s time to do something different,” Whittier said.

Selectmen, who thanked Whittier for his service, said they will launch a search for a public works director for the first time since Whittier took over that position in 1977.

“They’ll have large shoes to fill,” said Selectman Darlene Sanborn.

Selectmen read a resolution honoring Whittier with the Spirit of America tribute. The resolution commends Whittier for his leadership of public works and for his work with other organizations, including the Lions Club and East Monmouth Methodist Church. The resolution describes Whittier as a “noble, selfless individual who cares about the community.”

The presentation was followed by a prolonged standing ovation by selectmen and more than a dozen other town officials and residents who attended the meeting.

Whittier, who grew up in Monmouth, returned home in 1969 after serving in the Air Force to be an equipment operator and laborer for the public works department. He spent a year in Massachusetts in the mid-1970s but otherwise has worked with Monmouth’s Public Works department ever since. He took over as director in 1977.

Pauline McDougald, who this year retired after nearly 40 years in the town office, including stints as interim town manager and as chairman of the board of selectmen, several years ago reflected on Whittier’s service.

“If he ever retires, the town will find out how much he’s done,” McDougald said at the time. “He’s a foreman, but he’s out there working with the fellows when there’s anything to be done.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4

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