MORRIS COUNTY — Reynold Fauci, Director of Recreation Facilities for the Morris County Park Commission, is hanging up his ice skates after overseeing operations at the William G. Mennen Sports Arena since the time it was being constructed in 1974.
Following a 46-year career with the Park Commission, Fauci will officially retire tomorrow, October 1, taking with him a lifetime of memories at the arena, where he hosted everyone from National Hockey League players and Olympic champion skaters to world-class tennis players and pop-music stars.
“I remember our opening day like it was yesterday. They were lined up out the door and we had to stop the rest from coming in. It was a popular place right from the start,” Fauci recalled of the arena’s Jan. 12, 1975 dedication.
He also recalled a litany of historic events and athletes, including visits from skating and tennis greats.
“We had the first state high school ice hockey championship between Chatham and Brick. Standing room only. We had major tennis matches here, too. I remember I had to go to the airport to pick up Björn Borg, Ilie Năstase, and Rod Laver,” he said. “We also had the Eastern Figure Skating Championship for the amateur skaters who would go to the Olympics back in 1982, and in that group was Scott Hamilton, Elaine Zayak and Kitty and Peter Carruthers – all of them top skaters who went on to win.”
Fauci’s work with the Park Commission was rooted in his love for ice hockey.
Born in Morris County, he attended Morristown High School and played for the original County College of Morris ice hockey team, scoring their first goal before moving on to play semi-pro hockey for the Essex Comets and the Newark Brewers. When news broke in 1972 that the Park Commission and Morris County Board of Freeholders were considering construction of an ice-skating rink on donated land in Morris Township, Fauci began pursuing a job with the commission.
He was hired Sept. 17, 1974 as assistant manager and witnessed the official opening of the arena when it had just one rink and was designed with a ceiling high enough to qualify as a venue for professional tennis.
“The thinking then was that it had to serve a dual purpose, that it couldn’t be just for skating and ice hockey, so the ceiling was built to be 30 feet high to qualify for it to be used as a tennis court, too. We used to have to put big covers down on the rink,” recalled Richard Seabury III, a Morris County Park Commissioner since 1970 who joined Fauci at the arena yesterday for an impromptu farewell gathering.
Fauci was promoted to manager of the arena on September 1, 1980, and oversaw the expansion of the arena to include a second ice-rink in 1986 and a third in 2002, the same year he was promoted to Director of Recreation Facilities. The position expanded his responsibilities to include Lee’s County Park Marina at Lake Hopatcong and Mahlon Dickerson Reservation Campgrounds in Jefferson Township.
So why retire?
“After 46 years, it’s time,” said Fauci, explaining that he stayed on for so many years because he loved his job and especially his co-workers, most of whom retired before him.
“One of the keys that made us successful all these years is my administrative staff. I was very fortunate,” said Fauci. “They were such a great staff and we worked so well as a team here together. I mean we were all on the same page. It was a pleasure to come to work with that administrative staff and now, most of them are gone.”
Morris County Freeholder Director Deborah Smith visited the arena yesterday to present Fauci with a resolution on behalf of the full board to recognize his many years with the Park Commission.
“Thank you for your dedication and your many years of service to Morris County, and congratulations on your retirement. We wish you the best,” said Director Smith, handing Fauci the framed resolution inside the arena’s original rink.
The resolution said the board: “Congratulates Reynold Fauci for his stellar tutelage of the Mennen Arena and additional recreational facilities over nearly five decades and extends their best wishes on a long and happy retirement. To a job well done, we say Thank You!”
Seabury was joined by two other Park Commission members are the farewell gathering, including Betty Cass-Schmidt, and Julie C. Baron.
Fauci lives in Randolph with his wife, Denise. They have a daughter, Jennifer, and son, Reynold A. Fauci, who also played high school and minor league hockey.
Mr. Fauci now has two grandchildren as well, and he said he watches his family skate at the Mennen Arena from time to time.