Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – Robert McKinley couldn't sleep at all the night before he started his job with the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation as excitement and nerves took over.

"I am still here," McKinley said with pride as he was recently recognized by the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders for 60 years of service to the County. "I'm not thinking about retirement. I love what I do."

McKinley lives by the adage if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.

McKinley started with the Ocean County Parks and Recreation department as a laborer in Ocean County Park, Lakewood on July 1, 1959.

"It was the happiest day of my life when Aubrey Clayton (superintendent of parks) called to tell me I was hired," he said. "It came at the perfect time, I just wasn't sure what I wanted to do."

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders recognized McKinley at its July 2 meeting with a resolution acknowledging his years of service to the County.

"Bobby McKinley is truly a dedicated employee," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines, who serves as chairwoman to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation. "His institutional knowledge is invaluable. He is a hard worker and also a mentor to new staff members. Bobby brings so much to the table. He is an unsung hero that helps maintain our park facilities and enjoys doing it every day."

"Many of us here have known Bobby for a long time," said Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Kelly. "He is a dedicated parks' department employee who makes certain our residents and visitors can enjoy the many parks this board maintains.

"Today we are taking this opportunity to let him know he is appreciated," Kelly said.

During his six decades with the department, McKinley has seen great growth in the Ocean County Parks system which now has 27 different park sites including two county-run golf courses, dog parks, a spray park and a host of other facilities.

McKinley began in the Parks Department when the Ocean County Park system was just beginning to grow.

"Bobby has been here to help us meet the challenges of a growing county park system," Haines said. "From its modest beginnings to more than 4,000 acres of parkland we now maintain, Bobby is truly an asset to the department and the County."

Mckinley is now a heavy equipment operator based at Ocean County Park, Lakewood, which also is his home town.

"Whether it is running the front end loader, setting up the county mobile stage for special events, operating specialized equipment to improve facilities, or extending his wisdom and knowledge to new employees, Bobby makes a positive impact on the parks," Haines said. "He knows they are important and a centerpiece for the quality of life here in Ocean County."

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