After nearly 39 years of service to the Garden City community, Fire Captain John Eric Schields attended his last board of trustees meeting Nov. 4 before officially retiring his post. His colleagues offered touching words for a quiet-mannered and professional man who made his way through the ranks.
With the St. Paul's saga no closer to being resolved, Trustee Fire Commissioner John Watras jokingly told Schields he's "lucky" it's his last meeting. Village Clerk Brian Ridgway, who joined the Garden City Fire Department at age 18, thanked Captain Schields for his words of advice over the years. "He was certainly a good person to look up to," he said.
Garden City Police Commissioner Ernest Cipullo, who affectionately nicknamed Schields "Captain Safety," during his 24-year stint as the village's safety director, offered him congratulations and good luck in his retirement years, as did Recreation Commissioner Kevin Ocker, Village Counsel Gary Fishberg, Village Auditor Jim Olivo, Building Superintendent Michael Filippon and Public Works Director Robert Mangan, who let Schields smear his initials in the new concrete aprons at Fire Headquarters. Trustees added their accolades, wishing Captain Schields "equally great achievements" in his retirement years.
Captain Schields was commanding officer of Headquarters Company. He was sworn in as a firefighter on April 18, 1966. On May 1, 1972 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and on Feb. 17, 1980 he was promoted to the rank of captain.