HAMPTON, Va. - Hardy W. Cash can't quite keep away from City Hall. Who could after working there for three quarters of his life?
After retiring in January 2011 as Hampton's ombudsman, Cash received an internationally-recognized token of his service earlier this month _ a certificate from the Guinness Book of World Records.
He now holds the record for the longest career as a civil servant, at 63 years and 210 days. His service began July 1, 1947, and ended Jan. 28, 2011, said Sara Wilcox, a Guinness World Records spokeswoman.
Even still, he keeps up a semi-regular routine of heading back to the tower on Lincoln Street to check in.
"I try to go down to City Hall a couple times a week," Cash said. "Actually, I went three times this week already."
City staff contacted Guinness World Records about Cash's feat shortly after he retired.
"Hardy Cash is a Hampton icon," Mayor Molly Joseph Ward said. "To remain in public service to one city for more than 60 years is a feat that won't likely be duplicated any time soon. We are most grateful to him for his commitment to public service."
Cash also has a street in Hampton named after him. Hardy Cash Drive is located in the Coliseum Central Business District. The thoroughfare is book-ended by Coliseum Drive and Magruder Boulevard.
Cash's career in city government began when he was 19, assisting Elizabeth City County Executive W.R. "Buddy" Freeman with tasks around the office.
In 1952, Cash became Hampton's first purchasing agent after the city merged with Phoebus and Elizabeth City County. From 1953 to 1979, he was Hampton's first zoning administrator.
Cash was then bumped to Hampton's director of zoning where he stayed until 1995 when he was made the city's ombudsman in the city manager's office. At that point, he had already served 48 years in public service.
A sign above his eighth-floor office in City Hall read "Our Father Who Art in Hampton" a play on the Lord's Prayer, because of the institutional knowledge he brought to the job.
"I really enjoyed what I did," Cash said. "It was nice to stay there that long and to keep my health long enough that I could be there."
Throughout the years, Cash has seen the city's commercial district shift from downtown to Coliseum Central, the military's role in the community wax and wane, and the economy's reliance on watermen diminish.
Cash said he has mixed feelings about retirement. Sometimes, he said, it's easy to relax. But at other times he finds that work, a hobby for so long, has been hard to let go.
"It's hard getting used to retirement after 63-and-a-half years," he said. "I've built a little office in the back, so I spend some time there writing letters to friends and going over some things."
As for his Guinness World Record certificate, Cash said he will likely hang it in his family room for a while, but he hasn't made any solids plans yet.
Information from: Daily Press, http://www.dailypress.com
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