A Night to Remember with Jim Novak

 When my wife Kathy and I were informed months ago that the TPI Board wanted to throw a goodbye/thank you dinner to acknowledge my retirement I was somewhat apprehensive. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would the food be good? Would anyone care to sit with us? Would I have to chip-in for our portion of the meal? 

Upon arriving at Morton’s Steakhouse promptly at 6:30 as requested, Kathy and I advised the hostess that we were there for the TPI function. She had no idea what we were talking about. We said, “Perhaps it’s under the name Reynolds? (Sandy or Casey),” she said, “No, we don’t have anything under TPI or Reynolds.” We were somewhat concerned that we might be at the wrong Morton’s Steakhouse, there are six in the Chicagoland area and I am noted for often getting lost. Kathy then asked, “Could it be under Turfgrass Producers International?” The hostess responded, “Oh, you mean the turfgrass people!”  

We were then led through several dining areas, down a dimly lit hallway, made a few turns and finally arrived at a room filled with many familiar faces. Greetings were exchanged. And after some friendly conversation everyone scampered off to a table for dinner. The meal was delightful and so too was the conversation.  After everyone finished eating Sandy Reynolds began what could be described as a poor man’s roast and I was to be the roastee!

Sandy was joined by Geri Hannah in recalling some humorous stories regarding a few of my misadventures over the years at TPI and everyone had a laugh including yours truly. 

Sandy had a half dozen blown-up head shots of me, all of which depicted a seemingly troubled soul, and had placed them on ping-pong paddles. She waved each photo and proceeded to describe my expression in each photo; it went something like this: “This is the not so happy Jim. This is the grumpy Jim. This is Jim when he’s in a good mood, I know it’s hard to tell the good mood Jim from the grumpy Jim, but that’s Jim.”  

After Sandy and Geri did their tag-team comedy routine, Linda Bradley advised everyone that I visit the old TPI office once a week to check the building and run the water. She then presented me with a few gifts from the board. They included a toilet plunger, a roll of bathroom tissue, a toilet scrub brush, a can of air freshener and a pair of yellow latex gloves. It can’t get much better than that after twelve years of dedicated service.   

Following Linda’s presentation, Jimmy Fox got a bit more serious as he kindly acknowledged my contribution to TPI, the board and its members during my career. His thoughtful remarks, the recognition extended to me, and the response from those in attendance was deeply moving.  Jimmy also presented me with a personal gift from the Board to show their appreciation for my years of service. 

At the close of the evening I shared a few light-hearted and personal stories and expressed my sincere gratitude to everyone for their thoughtfulness and told them how much I appreciated the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone in such a warm setting.

After Kathy and I left the restaurant we sat in the car for a while, we looked at one another and agreed, we’re going to miss working with such wonderful people. It truly was a night to remember.

TPI Sec-Treasurer Eric Heuver and TPI President Linda Bradley taking turns toasting Jim Novak

About the Author

Casey Reynolds, PhD
Dr. Casey Reynolds is the Executive Director at Turfgrass Producers International

Leave a Reply