Jim Tillinghast was 44 in 1968 when he started working for the Public Works Department in North Stonington, CT. That was 47 years ago, and he's still the first one to arrive in the morning and the last one to leave at night. He forgot to retire, but remembered everything else -- all the town's drainage systems, catch basins, culverts, plus all public works projects for the past forty years. "With Jim, it's like having an encyclopedia of the town," says highway foreman Stephen Holliday.
Photo by Sean Elliot/The Day
Co-workers call him Uncle Jim and say he knows every crevice, rock and bump along the side of town roads. He never carries a radio or cell phone, so if he's out manicuring the town and his tractor breaks down, he just stands beside it and waits for help. There's a saying in Stonington. "If it's not snowing, Jim's out mowing." In winter he rides on snowplows, telling the operator where hidden catch basins need to be cleared.
Does he ever plan to retire? "Yeah, sometime," he says, " probably after I pass away."