Deibler’s service, attitude and smile honored at retirement celebration

His years of dedicated service to Greenwich’s seniors and always having a smile on his face as he was providing help on the most difficult and confusing of issues were praised at the retirement celebration for Sam Deibler.

The longtime director of the town’s Commission on Aging was celebrated at a special retirement tea last Thursday at the Greenwich Senior Center. The event promised “lighthearted tributes and serious tea and cookies” to send the beloved Mr. Deibler off into a well-deserved retirement. The evening event was attended by many notables, including First Selectman Peter Tesei, Selectman Drew Marzullo, state Rep. Livvy Floren (R-149th District), state Rep.-elect Stephen Walko (R-150th District), United Way of Greenwich Director Stuart Adelberg, and several heads of Greenwich service organizations that have worked closely with Mr. Deibler throughout the years.

“Sam is a wonderful advocate, and our seniors have been very fortunate to have him these past 10 years,” Lori Jackson, chairman of the town’s Commission on Aging, said at the event. “He’s a kind counselor of all seniors. His door is always open and his voice is always kind and soft and reasonable. His service has been a gift to this community, and he’s navigated sometimes difficult waters with character and dedication to detail.”

But Mr. Deibler received more than kind words. He also received some tributes for his time working for the town, including a formal citation from the town’s legislative delegation to Hartford from Ms. Floren and an official Greenwich town flag from Mr. Tesei, who told him to fly it proudly in the yard.

He praised Mr. Deibler’s calm steadiness and sense of humor and thanked him for his contributions to legislative help for seniors and also developing property tax relief programs for seniors that allow them to remain in their homes where they’ve lived for years.

“Sam, it’s been a true pleasure to work with you,” Mr. Tesei said. “The time I spent working with you, first on the Board of Estimate and Taxation and then in the selectmen’s office, has been a real pleasure. You are a consummate gentleman, and your knowledge and understanding of senior issues is second to none. We all recognize the loss that we feel today with your retirement. It’s well earned and well deserved, but the town, it’s seniors and the population at large, is certainly going to miss your presence and contributions, which have been enormous. I don’t think there’s been one person I’ve ever encountered that you have not put a smile on the face of.”

Ms. Floren said after more than 10 years of being a close colleague and friend of Mr. Deibler she had never seen him have a bad day or even a bad minute.

“He meets every challenge with an open mind, a compassionate heart, that big grin, and a can-do attitude,” Ms. Floren said. “As a member of the Committee on Aging in Hartford, Sam has been my go-to person with everything dealing with senior adults.”

Ms. Floren said there are vast and difficult topics facing seniors, like Medicaid, affordable housing, Social Security, tax returns, a new senior center in Greenwich, flu shots, computer literacy, driver’s licenses, nutrition, and Medicare. She said Mr. Deibler had to become an expert in all of them to be able to help Greenwich’s seniors, and she particularly noted Medicare, saying that after all the research he had to do to answer questions from town residents, “Sam knows more about the donut hole than the guys over at Dunkin’ Donuts.”

“Sam does his homework and is prepared with the facts,” Ms. Floren said. “He’s always willing to take the time to share.”

Former Selectwoman Lin Lavery, who was part of the Commission on Aging when the decision was first made to hire Mr. Deibler, called him a great leader and collaborator. She singled out his ability to identify that what Greenwich lacked for its seniors was one unified vision to help them and how that got him to work with groups and individuals all over town, particularly the Junior League of Greenwich, on a two-day conference attended by 85 people that defined the issues and set a direction for the next 10 years.

“He did a wonderful job bringing people together, identifying the issues and sending us off in the right direction,” Ms. Lavery said. “And Sam has always done this with compassion. When a senior comes in and understands that their life is going in a different direction, that smile, that confidence that says, ‘You’re going to be OK. You’ll be able to understand Medicare Part D and the donut hole,’ really makes so much difference. It’s been remarkable working with you, and the seniors are so grateful for what you have done in this town.”

That vision included working not only on transportation and housing but also on a new multi-purpose senior center, which is still something to be realized. Jack Morris, head of the Friends of the Senior Center group which is trying to raise private funds to build a new senior center, said Mr. Deibler was a “hero amongst us” and noted Mr. Deibler had agreed to do this tribute only if the funds raised from it went to benefit the friends group.

“You’re genuine, you’re gentle and you’ve just been terrific,” Mr. Morris said. “What we’re doing with the friends group is trying to be ready to carry out Sam’s vision for a new senior center.”

Speaking to the Post after the short ceremony, Mr. Deibler said he was touched by the tributes, and he teared up a few times from all the well wishes and good memories. He thanked everyone for their kind words as well as the dedication they had shown the town’s seniors.

“It’s a real thrill,” Mr. Deibler said. “I’ve worked with these people at the agencies over the last 10 years. I have a lot of respect for them and the work that they do. It’s really nice to see them come out and say hi and thanks. I’m a little choked up about it right now.”

And while he is looking forward to being able to sleep in on weekday mornings, Mr. Deibler said he would miss the job.

“The people I work with on a regular basis have been of the highest caliber,” Mr. Deibler said. “My days are full of contacts with people like this and that’s what I enjoy. My wife is a contractor for IBM and she sits alone at a computer all day. So at the end of the day I ask, ‘How was your day?’ and it was her interacting only through emails and notes with people a world away. For me, I’ve been rubbing elbows with really great people all day and it’s been wonderful.”


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