SALEM - Longtime Salem City Treasurer Bob Tullis said he'll continue doing some volunteer work, but effective Dec. 31 after 24 years, his days as a public servant are over.
"Thank you to all those voters who put so much trust in me. I'm just so humbled by that. I've tried my best to be the person they voted for," the 68-year-old said this week.
An open house to celebrate his retirement and to welcome the new treasurer, John Conrad, is set from 2 to 4 p.m. today in council chambers at city hall.
An open house to say goodbye to Salem City Treasurer Bob Tullis, pictured here, is set from 2 to 4 p.m. today at city hall council chambers. Tullis is retiring from public service after 16 years as treasurer and eight years as a councilman. Well-wishers can also say hello to new city Treasurer John Conrad, who takes office Jan. 1. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
Tullis started out as a city councilman, serving from 1990 to 1997 and chairing the Finance Committee from 1992 to 1996. The city treasurer at the time decided not to run again and he thought, why not? Tullis was elected to the post in 1997 and has served four terms.
"I just felt like I needed a new challenge," he said.
When he was just starting the job, he ran into Judge C. Ashley Pike who told him that he and his dad, who had also served as a judge in Columbiana County, had a philosophy of serving in "quiet confidence."
Tullis liked that idea and adopted it as his own, just quietly doing the job. He took the job and the responsibility that came with it very seriously.
"Someone comes with a question, they get an answer," he said.
He praised his co-workers in city government, especially those in the income tax office, saying he works with a great group of people and worked with some great administrators over the years, both as a councilman and as treasurer.
He's been going over spreadsheets, contacts and other information with Conrad and offered this advice.
"Just know that a lot of people are standing behind you. Everywhere you look, there's help," Tullis said.
He expressed mixed emotions and mixed feelings about stepping down because he likes the people he works with and likes the job, but he and his wife, Eugenia, want to be able to travel for longer periods of time and escape the winter weather.
When he announced in January that he wasn't running for a fifth term, he said "you reach a point when it's time to move on."
Tullis had already retired from his full-time job with the Public Broadcasting System channels 45/49 in 2008. His wife works part-time for an advertising company, but can get away if she wants. They have a lot of travel plans to visit their children and grandchildren and to visit once-in-a-lifetime places, such as Israel.
Tullis said they're going to "walk where Jesus walked. People have said it's an amazing experience to see all these places you read about."
One of the stops on the tour is the Dead Sea, where he's planning to do some floating.
The couple has four children: son Jeff in Salem, daughter Tracy in Winona, daughter Kim in San Marcos, Calif. and daughter Kristen in Bradner, which is in the northwest section of Ohio. They also have eight grandchildren spread all over.
When they're not traveling, he'll do his volunteer work at Salem Community Hospital one day a week as a patient escort and a caller for Project Welcome Home, making contact with patients recently discharged to see how they're doing and whether they need anything.
He also serves as secretary/treasurer for his church, Believers Christian Fellowship, and treasurer for the Salem Area Amateur Radio Association.