Gail Schultz worked with every department within the village of Bradley except the fire department.
Although she does not want to take too much credit, she was the driving force behind Bradley’s annual Christmas parade, as well as Bradley’s 100th and 125th anniversary celebrations.
A 1977 graduate of Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School and then Marycrest Business College, Schultz, the daughter of the late Ken Hayes, the longtime Bradley mayor, called it a career on Wednesday.
At a small gathering in the village board room, Schultz, 61, a lifelong resident of Bradley, celebrated with family, friends and co-workers.
“The long road is winding down,” Mayor Pro Tem Mike Watson said in acknowledgment of Schultz’ long service to the village. “It’s a sad day. ... It doesn’t seem like it’s been nearly 28 years [as full-time employee]. Time does go by very fast.”
While almost coming to tears, Watson said it was with his most heartfelt sincerity that he was sad to see Schultz retire from the village.
“I wish you the best of luck,” he said. “You deserve it.”
Brought to the head of the board room and handed a microphone, Schultz was somewhat out of her element. She always preferred to work behind the scene.
“It’s been an adventure. I’ve worked with some great people,” she said. “It’s going to be tough to go, but go I will. It’s been great to serve my hometown.”
Schultz began working as a temporary employee in 1982.
She then became a part-time employee in 1993 and full time in 1996.
Schultz said it was the pandemic that made her decide the time had come. She said spending the time at home made her realize it was time to enter the next phase of her life.
“We looked at the numbers and they worked. I’ve been working since I was 15,” she said.
What was her most cherished memory with the village? The 2020 Christmas parade, which, of course, was the parade where the floats didn’t move, but cars motored past due to COVID-19 concerns. It was known as the “drive-thru” parade.
The parade was one of few annual events in 2020 which survived the pandemic.
“It was such a scary, tricky year,” she said. “For the people who attended the parade, you could see it meant so much. So many people showed up who wouldn’t have been able to if it had been held the normal way. That made me feel good.”
Turning her thoughts back to her village career, it is easy to see that her career was far more than just a job, than just a paycheck.
“This has been home ... we are just here to help the public.”
Well said and congratulations on a wonderful career.