When Allen Bloedel was first elected to the District 91 School Board, current board member Larry Buckley’s father was leaving the board and current board secretary Charles Marinier’s father was on the board.

Last week, as he said goodbye to his fellow board members, he told them he was proud to have served and happy to give his seat to Marinier, after opting for retirement and withdrawing from the election race.

“Over the years I have made many votes, but all the votes I made were always with the thought of what was best for the kids of Forest Park,” he said. “It is hard to put a qualitative analysis, but my favorite board was five years ago, when we got together and selected Dr. [Randolph] Tinder.”

In a jovial and friendly ceremony, board members said their good-byes to one of the longest serving members of the board and swore in newly-re-elected members Marinier, Lois Bugajsky, Marilyn Garapolo and Larry Buckley.

“We do the board’s work and you’ve done your share and gone to all the extra meetings” board member Steve Johnsen told Bloedel. “I came on as a young guy and you were a senior board member, a mentor to me. Your experience was invaluable and I am proud to have served with you.”

Fellow board member Glenn Garlisch said the most impressive thing about Bloedel’s service is that, even though he served for a long time, he never just mailed it in and was always actively involved.

“I always looked to [Bloedel] for advice and maybe 25 years from now I’ll get to talk about when I served with Al Bloedel,” he said, laughing.

Buckley said he was sorry he only got four years to serve with Bloedel but added that Marinier was a fine addition to the board.

“I know Charles is taking your place and you should feel good about that,” he told Bloedel.

District 91 School Superintendent Tinder said Bloedel’s retirement signals an end of an era in boardsmanship.

“When people like Lois [Bugajsky] and Al [Bloedel] don’t run anymore, that will be a big loss,” he said. “As a superintendent or principal we look to better board members and [Al’s] lead and support has been invaluable.”

“We don’t get paid anything, but our retirement is 100 percent,” joked Bloedel.

After Bloedel stepped down and the new members were sworn in, the first order of business was reorganizing the board.

Catherine Denham stepped down as board president and Marilyn Garapolo was elected in her place.

“I’ve been waiting 22 years to have a red head as board president,” joked Tinder of the selection.

Also elected were Lois Bugajsky as vice president and Charles Marinier as secretary, replacing Larry Buckley and Marilyn Garapolo, respectively.

Garapolo will serve two years as president; Bugajsky and Marinier will serve one term.