The Sykesville Town Council gathered on the municipal parking lot behind Main Street Monday night and dedicated the site to a man who served the town for nearly half a century.
William R. "Mac" McElroy, 86, beamed proudly at the unveiling of a white sign with his name in bright blue letters at the entrance to the lot.
"That is just great, just great," said Mr. McElroy, who said he was thrilled to have his name immortalized.
When he began working for Sykesville in December 1937, the lot was a lumber yard surrounded by a stone jail, a fire station and a few stores.
"There were no people around here," he said.
Nearly 50 years ago, the town's police chief tried to start a taxi business and asked Mr. McElroy to fill in for him "a few days a week."
"After about a month, I had the job," Mr. McElroy laughed. "He got out to drive a taxi. I stayed on as police chief for 31 years."
The title "chief" may have been a misnomer, he said. He had no staff.
"I didn't really work for the town, I was it, for more than half my life," he said.
After he left the police beat, he supervised the town's maintenance department for about 15 more years. Failing health forced him into retirement in 1983.
"He didn't want to leave, but he had a stroke," said his daughter, Buna Rippeon, who came to the dedication along with three of her six siblings and several of Mr. McElroy's grandchildren.
"I lost track of how many grandchildren he has," she said. "There are great-great ones now."
As a child, Ms. Rippeon said, she always knew where her father was: "on the job in Sykesville."
Mr. McElroy still makes his home in Sykesville with his daugh
ter Frankie Wilcox.
"He was so excited about this dedication, and looking forward to it so," said Ms. Wilcox.
Ten years after he retired from municipal employment, Mr. McElroy returns to the Sykesville town offices often to make sure the wheels of municipal government are running smoothly.
"Where have you been?" he asked as he gave Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. a hearty handshake. "I have been wanting to talk to you."
The mayor laughed as he asked Mr. McElroy, "Are you still on my side?"
"He is a darling, dear old man and what he has done for the town is incredible," said Mr. Helt of the honoree.
Sykesville established a personal retirement plan for Mr. McElroy. Mayor-elect Kenneth W. Clark had good news for the retiree -- a 3 percent increase in his pension.
"I am really glad I met you," said Mr. McElroy.