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Hal Alvord, former DPW director, dies at 73

The late Hal Alvord, former Norwalk Department of Public Works Director.

NORWALK, Conn. — Hal Alvord, former Norwalk Director of the Department of Public Works, died Sept. 30. His funeral is Saturday, in Danbury.

“You had to love him because of what a contributor he was,” Norwalk Tree Alliance Board member Andrew Strauss said Saturday, crediting Alvord with the reforestation of Norwalk.

Alvord ran the Department of Public Works for 12 years, after being hired by former Mayor Alex Knopp in 2003.

His obituary was posted by the Green Funeral Home this week:

 

Harold Frank Alvord of Danbury passed away peacefully, surrounded by loving family, on Saturday, September 30th, 2017 at Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain; he was 73.

Born July 2, 1944 in Putnam, Connecticut, Hal graduated from Putnam High School in 1962 and attended UCONN prior to being drafted into the US Army in December of 1965. Following basic training, Alvord attended Engineer Officer Candidate School, Ranger Training, and Flight School where he obtained a Rotary Wing Qualification. He would go on to fly helicopters in Vietnam earning numerous awards and commendations including 39 Air Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, two Bronze Star Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He would go on to serve his country for another 22 years completing assignments in several US states and in Germany. While on active duty, he completed degrees in Engineering Management at the University of Missouri-Rolla and Public Administration at Shippensburg State University. He retired from the Army in June of 1993 having achieved the rank of Colonel. After retirement from the military, Hal worked in the private sector before becoming the Director of Public Works for the City of Norwalk, Connecticut, a position he held for 12 years. After leaving the City he was hired as the Director of Maintenance and Facilities Management at the Norwalk Transit District later becoming their Chief Logistics Officer. His work in the City compelled him to serve as Norwalk’s tree warden and President of the Norwalk Tree Alliance promoting urban reforestation and earning the City of Norwalk a “Tree City, USA” designation from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

Those who knew Hal well will remember his intellect, wit and inability to remain serious even in the politest company. His infectious laugh could fill a room and never failed to turn heads in appreciation and sometimes horror! He lived his life honorably and with no regret. Those closest to him will remember him as a kind and caring man whose friendship and support never wavered. He will be missed by all.

A loving son, husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend, Hal was preceded in death by his parents Arthur D. and Alma F. (Nason) Alvord. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Paula J. of Danbury; his daughter Mindy, of Ridgefield; son Patrick and wife Devon, of Solon, IA; his four grandchildren, Emma, Riley, Taylor and Parker; his sister Carol Lusby of Putnam; his sister and brother-in-law Linda and Ed Davis, of New Milford; his brother-in-law Richard Taylor and wife Gail, of Kennesaw, GA. Hal will be further remembered by his nieces, nephews, extended family, many dear friends, and former colleagues.

Friends and family are invited to pay their respects between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at Green Funeral Home, 57 Main Street, Danbury, CT 06810.

In lieu of flowers, please plant a tree. Otherwise, Hal would certainly appreciate your donation in support of the Norwalk Tree Alliance or any charity of your choice. Norwalk Tree Alliance – 215 East Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06855.

 

 

Alvord became ill in May, Strauss said.

“People have thrust checks in my hand to do something for Hal. There’s a lot of interest in that,” he said. “We are putting it in a separate fund. I am open to the best ideas. We are not going to dedicate a tree, it’s going to be much bigger than that. It’s going to be a continuing thing.”

Norwalk is being named a Tree City U.S.A. again, he said, and Alvord was “really the force behind the city program.”

“The real commitment is to reforest,” Strauss said. “Like any head of a department, I am sure he had his detractors and he had his supporters. But most people who knew Hal knew he had high integrity. He had a military background, he was a colonel running a major operation in the DC area for the Corps of Engineers. You don’t get that lightly. He managed over 1,500 people in that capacity.”

Norwalk Department of Public Works Director Bruce Chimento, at Saturday’s Touch a Truck event, said he had only met Alvord once, but commented that when he took over DPW it was “running pretty efficiently.”

“He put a lot of systems in place,” Common Council member Doug Hempstead (R-At Large) said. “He got a lot of slack because he enforced the rules. Sometimes a little too zealous but I mean, I think he took it to the next step, made it very professional, did a lot of upgrades on equipment, got the repair shop straightened out. He was very professional in what he did. He just rubbed people the wrong way a lot of time. Sad. I hate to see anybody – he didn’t enjoy his retirement.”

“Hal was a very talented professional with a lot of knowledge about infrastructures and he did a really good job in helping to make Norwalk a better place,” Mayor Harry Rilling said. “He dedicated a lot of time and energy, he worked very, very hard and he got a lot done. So, a lot of things that happened in Norwalk, Hal had his fingerprints on.”

12 comments

pnolin October 12, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Hal’s only problem was he wasn’t political and his greatest strength was he wasn’t political. A very good man who did many great things for our city.

Bryan Meek October 12, 2017 at 3:09 pm

He was a good man. I will miss him. He taught me a lot about how our government works and sometimes how it doesn’t work too.

Wineshine October 12, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Hal was not only a good man, but a highly capable one at that. When other towns were without plumbing during Sandy, Hal made ours keep running. RIP.

Tony D'Andrea October 12, 2017 at 6:46 pm

Hal told it like it was.

He had the ability to separate the facts from bulls**t, and would always come down on the side of truth and honor. I cooperated with Hal and his department on years’ worth of issues concerning water quality for Norwalk Harbor and the WPCA.

Upon his departure from city service, I suggested that the following quote pretty well summed things up.

“I believe that it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him … we must live for the future, not for our own comfort or success.” Hyman Rickover.

he chortled and said… “get back to watching the harbor.”

I will Hal. We will all miss you.

Fred Wilms October 12, 2017 at 7:07 pm

I enjoyed working 8 years with Hal on both the WPCA and in my BET capacity. I had complete confidence in his technical and engineering capabilities. He genuinely cared about our City and he worked tirelessly to make our City infrastructure the best it could be. Budget times with Hal were always an adventure with his detailed, color coded spending plans that were way beyond what we were going to give him! But I always respected his advocacy and passion. He left Norwalk a far better place than he found it.

Dick Moccia October 12, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Hal was direct and straight to the point. That sometime irritated some people, but he always had best interests of Norwalk at heart. When there was a controversy, we would meet, and he would laugh and say to me “I know Mayor, you want me to go a Dale Carnegie course” He resume says it all, and not to be overlooked was his service to his country. My condolences to his family.
Dick Moccia

USA October 12, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Ranger Training: Bad Ass !
Fly Helicopters in Vietnam: Bad Ass !
Two Bronze Star Medals: Super Bad Ass !
Distinguished Flying Cross: Super Bad Ass !
Surviving The War: Super Bad Ass !!!
I could imagine all the lives that you and your crew saved in Vietnam.
Thank You Fellow Veteran For Your Service !!!

Victor Cavallo October 13, 2017 at 12:34 am

At my Planning Commission meetings, at capital budget presentations, we would all be mesmerized by his charisma. Look up the word “gravitas” and Hal is in the definition. Would have been proud to have called him my Dad, or Uncle, or Brother. An awesome, awesome guy.

Andy Conroy October 13, 2017 at 9:13 am

My condolences to the Alvord family. I worked with Hal for years and found him full of ideas to better serve the City. He was extraordinarily capable and succeeded at putting many of his ideas into effect. Though occasionally irascible, I found Hal’s achievements outweighed any need for a reread of Dale Carnegie’s book. I have missed his presence at City Hall, and am sad we cannot cross paths again on this earth.

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