RARITAN, NJ - After 36 years running the Recreation Department in Raritan Borough, Rich Bartolucci retired, as of Aug. 30, and moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“We were looking at buying a home in South Carolina for years,” he said. “An opportunity popped up for having a house built and it was the right lot. We said, ‘that’s it.’”
After leaving the office for the last time Aug. 30, Bartolucci and his wife packed up the car and drove down to their new home.
“Our house [in Raritan] is on the market now, and we sold all the furniture,” he said. “We are making a whole new life.”
Formerly a lifelong resident of Raritan, Bartolucci had been running the Recreation Department for 36 years, creating activities for kids on Halloween and Christmas, designing programs and providing opportunities for all residents.
“Rich did a remarkable job during his tenure as our rec director,” said Raritan Mayor Jo-Ann Liptak. “He was instrumental in the refurbishing of Frelinghuysen Park. He oversaw the installation of a new pool, clubhouse and bocce court at Basilone Park, as well as the development of the other town parks at Washington School, Cardinal Woods, Elizabeth Avenue and Canal Street.”
“Rich was, and probably always will be, a true Raritan ‘kid’ at heart, and he knew what was important to the children of town since he was a participant in the recreation programs almost from the beginning of Raritan Recreation during the 1950s,” she added.
Bartolucci said that one of his fondest memories was the large banquets they held at St. Ann’s during the baseball and softball season each year. A crowd of at least 300 was present each year to celebrate the players, he said.
Seeing the kids’ faces, and giving out trophies and awards, with what a little $5 trophy meant to a child [was incredible],” he said.
Bartolucci said he will also miss working with his assistant director, Bob Andreychak, and he has many memories of getting in the car after dinner each night to go to the office and work with his partner.
“When I left, I left the borough a five-page list with all the things I accomplished, in case they forget,” he said with a laugh.
Now, Bartolucci and his wife are setting up a new life in South Carolina.
“Myrtle Beach is a wonderful place, one of the nicest beaches on the East Coast,” he said of the town they had been trying to move to for years. “It is a whole friendly atmosphere, and people go out of their way to make you feel at home.”
Bartolucci said that, at this time in his life, he is ready to put himself first.
“What you have to do in life sometimes, you have to think about yourself,” he said. “You raise your family, pay for their education and now it’s time to start taking care of yourself.”
“While we are still able to and have our health, we want to travel,” he added. “We ride bicycles a lot, and we like to walk. And it is 15 minutes to the ocean.”
In previous years, Barolucci said, he and his wife visited Myrtle Beach maybe once a year – now they will have to get used to the year-round climate.
“But it is a very growing place, one of the most popular destinations in the country after Disney World,” he said. “It’s one of the top five.”
Bartolucci, born and raised in Raritan, said he will always miss his friends and the camaraderie in Raritan.
“I have my memories, and in my office here I have all kinds of goodies from the kids and the pools,” he said. “I am always a Raritan-ite.”