Our Town of Westfield has helped me enjoy my life in so many ways.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Richard Bodmer. I have been a member of the Westfield Community since 1970. You might remember my mother Jacqueline Bodmer and my father Dick Bodmer; both were very active in the community, church, the choir, our Westfield Community Players, etc.  My parents were the first in our family to move here, and this move changed the trajectory of my life. Please grant me a few minutes to explain why.  My hope is that this story inspires you to reflect on the choice you made to live here and set up roots.

It was the spring of 1986, I had come home from the University of Delaware with my girlfriend, one of my football teammates and his girlfriend for the weekend. For my teammate and me our college football days were over, we were seniors (no spring football).  

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We decided to spend the weekend at my home in Westfield because we could easily take the train into NYC for dinner and a show. On our way into NY, we were standing on the platform (waiting for the connecting train) and looking around. Further down the platform, we noticed what looked like a homeless man. He was wearing a long tan colored coat that was filthy and had long hair and a beard. It looked as though he hadn’t washed in weeks.

As we noticed the man, he noticed us. He started walking towards us.  I could only assume that he was coming over to ask for money; he was now about 100 feet away from us.  As he got closer, I remember saying to my football friend, “here we go.” I had imagined that the disheveled man was going to go into a song and dance as to why we needed to give him our money.

Then, when he was within 25 feet of where we were standing, I could feel him staring at me.  He stepped even closer and spoke directly to me, “Rich, Rich Bodmer it’s me, Bill from Queen of Peace.”  I almost fell over. It was one of the kids I had gone to school with from nursery school all the way up through 7th grade. It was back in the summer between 7th and 8th grade when my family moved out of town, to Westfield.  Bill and I had gone to school together all those years ago. I could not believe he recognized me. The last time I saw him I was 13 years old. I might have been 5’8” at 110 pounds then. Now, I was 6’5” 248 pounds and about to report to football camp for the Miami Dolphins.  

Bill spent the next 15 minutes telling me about his struggles.  He also told of various horror stories related to other kids that we were friends with back then.  It was a roster of overdoses, jail time,  sadness and loss. I could not believe that those kids, the ones that I had received my first Holy Communion with, was confirmed with, and who at the time had such promising lives, had gone so out of control.

As the NY train finally arrived I wished Bill well, we parted ways and I got on the train with my friends. I reviewed what had just happened on the platform and explained that when my parents told me about the move, I wasn’t having it. All of my friends were there.  Friends I had known my whole life. I did not want to go. Against my objections we did move, my parents wanted something different for us and I didn’t see it then.

The next morning I went into the kitchen and began hugging my mother and thanking her. She began to ask me what was wrong (as only a mother can do). I told her nothing was wrong and how thankful I was that she and my father made me move to Westfield so many years ago. I told her about the encounter with Bill on the train platform the day before; she remembered him.  She also remembered the other kids that Bill and I talked about. It made us stop and appreciate how the move to Westfield impacted our family.  

The Westfield community has been a great place to invest our lives, and it will continue to be this. Our town is filled with people who understand working hard, the power of a good education, supporting our businesses and neighbors.  It’s an incredible place to live.  I am a second-generation Westfield resident, and I would like to sustain the important values of our community while moving our great town into the future.  I would like to serve you in our local government as town councilman. I have decided to run on the Republican ticket in November for Town Council, Ward 2 to keep our community strong.   Your vote for me is a vote to strengthen and keep our community strong.  Vote for Bodmer.

Rich Bodmer
Westfield, NJ