Although Edwin (“Ed”) R. Rodda officially retired as Township of West Milford registrar of vital statistics in 2006 after 59 years on the job, he continued to volunteer in his old office at West Milford Town Hall for many years afterward.
He received the Township of West Milford Volunteer of the Year Award in 2007 and the township’s Lifetime Volunteer Award in 2015.
It did not take Rodda long to discover that retirement wasn’t for him.
76 years of noting births, deaths and marriages
He was miserable staying at home while knowing that the full-time registrar’s service he provided to the township was being handled part-time by someone from an adjacent town.
For 76 years Ed issued certificates for birth, death and marriage.
Besides missing his job, he also missed knowing what was going on in the township – and he longed to see the people he had worked and bantered with, along with residents he came in contact with.
His daily drive to work from his Kanouse Road home in Newfoundland had become an even more vital part of his life after his beloved wife Almeda J. Mackey Rodda died at age 92 in 2011. She was the daughter of local Magistrate Forrest D. Mackey and Bessie Kimble Mackey. Almeda was the love of Ed’s life. A son Forrest was born to them.
Where he wanted to be
To the delight of township officials and the residents of West Milford they got their important service back at no cost. Ed was soon volunteering at his old job and assisting the part-time registrar from Bloomingdale. Once again there were hugs, smiles and compliments in town hall, especially for the ladies. The biggest smile of all was once again on Ed’s friendly face.
Being that he was already accepting a pension he was no longer eligible for a pay check from West Milford. That didn’t matter to Ed. He was where he wanted to be, doing the job he did so well.
Ed had so many stories to tell and back in the 1980s he delighted a group of township teachers who met during an in-service course with him at the municipal building. They heard of his adventures that started in the original town hall (now the West Milford Museum).
When he became a resident in the township hamlet of Newfoundland in 1936 there was no electricity and roads were unpaved. He witnessed the changes from a rural area to the town of today first hand.
Humbled at the honors
Ed was shocked when he received his awards from the township and overwhelmed at his surprise 100th birthday party at BOE Lodge 2236. He wondered how his co-workers somehow managed to plan it without him knowing about it.
He was humble about being honored and insisted that others were more deserving of the attention than he was.
Asked what the best years were, he quickly answered that they were the 1920s. He said everything was beautiful and plentiful in those days. Ed was a unique, special person who lives on as an important person in the history of the Township of West Milford.