2012-12-20 / Front Page

Longest-tenured Monmouth employee concludes career

Freehold’s Marion Vinyard has worked for elections department since 1961
BY JOSEPH SAPIA Correspondent

Marion Vinyard Marion Vinyard I t took more than a half-century, but it finally is happening: Marion Brown Vinyard is retiring from Monmouth County government.

Her last day on the job as an elections worker, an area she has worked in all her 51-plus years at the county, was Dec. 14. She is taking a few weeks of vacation before formally retiring Jan. 1.

“I figure it’s time,” said Vinyard, 78, noting she had recent treatment for breast cancer, from which she is doing fine, and is scheduled for cataract surgery.

“I figure it’s time to relax, take it easy,” said the Freehold Township resident.

“She paid her dues,” said her boss, Hedra Siskel, the county superintendent of elections and commissioner of registration. “She’s been a very conscientious, loyal employee. Marion has worked very hard and she’s earned her retirement.”

“She is the kind of person who made Monmouth County what it is with all the dedication and hard work,” said John P. Curley, director of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders.

Of the county’s approximately 4,200 workers, Vinyard has the longest current tenure.

On Aug. 7, 1961, Vinyard, a lifelong Freehold area resident, began working for the county, replacing a friend in the office of then-Superintendent/ Commissioner Glenn L. Swader. In those days, a person leaving was replaced by someone of the same political party, Vinyard said.

“He [Swader] said that if I was a Democrat, I got the job,” she said. “I said that I was a Democrat. I wasn’t anything, really.”

On the job, Vinyard inputs and updates voter registration, along with preparing paperwork for voting investigations.

“What are you going to do Monday morning when you don’t have to come in?” Vinyard’s friend and co-worker Kathy Matullo asked.

Vinyard said she has a special friend at home — Willie, her 17-year-old cockatiel — to occupy her.

“He’s my little love,” she said. “I do love animals. I cry when I see a dead one.”

Her yard is visited by birds, squirrels, chipmunks.

“All kinds of things come around,” Vinyard said. “If I have the food, I feed them.”

Vinyard said she will not be able to sleep in beyond her normal rising time of 6 a.m., because the cockatiel wakes her up.

“Can’t sleep in,” Vinyard said. “He’s going to get me up at 6, anyway.”

She plans to continue volunteering at her congregation, the First Presbyterian Church in Freehold. Also, she may add more volunteerism elsewhere. And she crochets, knits and paints.

“Now, I can just sit and relax and take it easy,” Vinyard said.

If Vinyard’s name is familiar, it likely has nothing to do with her in-thebackground job in elections. Instead, one can read about her in the recently published biography of rock and roll artist and Freehold area native Bruce Springsteen: “Bruce” by Peter Ames Carlin.

A few years after she took the Monmouth County job, Vinyard’s now-deceased husband, Gordon “Tex” Vinyard, began managing an early Springsteen band, the Castiles. Marion Vinyard was kind of a band mother.

The Vinyards were living in a duplex on Center Street in Freehold Borough. In the other half of the duplex lived teenage drummer Bart Haynes. By bringing Haynes and his fellow rock and rollers to their side of the house, the Vinyards could better control the loud music.

“Out went my furniture, they practiced in my dining room,” said Vinyard, who has no children. “Bruce came [into the band] when they moved over. They needed a lead guitar player.”

In 2002, Freehold Borough officials commemorated the Vinyards’ contribution to rock and roll, naming a park at the corner of Center and Jackson streets Vinyard Park. Vinyard remains close to Springsteen and another Castile, George Theiss. She has kept a tradition going from those band days, giving each musician $1 on his birthday, she said.

Vinyard said she is now reading the Springsteen biography, a gift from Laura Musgrave, another youthful visitor to the Vinyard house when rock and roll history was forming.

“Marion would take me to Bruce’s concerts,” Matullo said.

Matullo recalled one Springsteen concert that got started late and ran late — into the wee hours.

“This one’s a trouper, she’s dancing to his music,” said Matullo, 59. “Because it was 2 a.m., I was tired.”

With Vinyard leaving her county job, James J. Truncer, director of the Monmouth County Park System, will be the longesttenured employee at 48 years. Truncer started working for the county in June 1964.

“Tired,” said Truncer, 76, laughing, when asked about taking over the lead from Vinyard.

Then, he added, “I don’t even think about it. That’s not one of my goals.”

No, said Truncer, “I don’t have any” retirement plans.

As for Vinyard, Matullo said, “I’m going to miss her. You’re like a fixture in this office. It’s going to be kind of weird.”

“It went so fast,” Vinyard said. “I didn’t even feel the 50 years.”

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