Hal Clark says good-bye to Wilton

After 31 years in Wilton, active community member and resident Hal Clark will retire and move to Maine at the end of this year.

“I’ve lived in Wilton for a long time. My wife and I bought a home in Wilton in 1983 and moved in early March of 1984,” explained Mr. Clark, who said they chose to live in Wilton because of its “excellent schools.”

Mr. Clark said he was “not permitted” to visit Wilton until his wife Alison had been to the schools.

“My wife came up to Wilton with a Realtor and she said to the Realtor, ‘My daughter is four — show me the school she would go to,’” said Mr. Clark.

“She showed my wife the Driscoll School and my wife thought it was wonderful. The Realtor asked if she would like to see some houses and my wife said, ‘Oh no. We’ll find a nice house — this is the town.’”

Community involvement

Since becoming a Wilton resident, Mr. Clark has been deeply involved with various boards, organizations and committees in town, including the Board of Selectmen, Wilton Security Task Force and Energy Commission.

He has also been a trustee of the Wilton Pension and the Post Employment Benefits Trusts, a liaison with Ambler Farm and the Norwalk River Valley Trail, and helped find Board of Selectmen trustees for the Wilton Library Board — to name a few more.

“It’s the quiet work that nobody seems to understand that the selectmen do all the time, along with the Board of Education and Board of Finance — we do it the right way,” said Mr. Clark.

“If you look in detail, the numbers we provide are real numbers — we’re not trying to postpone costs for the next people who come down the line, so I’m proud of that work.”

Retirement

With his 68th birthday in a couple weeks, Mr. Clark said, he will be retiring from his company, Northeast Radiology, at the end of this year.

“My wife and I talked around Christmas time last year and realized that frankly, it was time to do something for us,” he said.

“I’ve been working since I was 12. I’ve spent 50 plus hours a week at the office, plus commute, and I’ve been averaging three meetings a week. I need to have some time to enjoy friends and spend time with my wife.”

Mr. Clark and his wife have moved to Ridgefield temporarily, until his retirement begins. They will then spend five-and-a-half months in Maine before going to Florida, where they will spend six-and-a-half months.

Mr. Clark said he looks forward to spending time with his daughter, who currently lives in Maine, and that he has a lot of family in Florida.

Mr. Clark said he and his wife have decided to go to Florida because its tax situation is “a whole lot better.”

“Unfortunately, Connecticut is expensive and it’s also the worst state in the nation to retire to, from a tax standpoint,” he said.

While he will miss the “lovely” and “very intelligent” people of Wilton, whose “extraordinary backgrounds” and “bright ideas” have enabled the Board of Selectmen to improve ordinances and helped make Wilton Public Schools safer through the Security Task Force, Mr. Clark said, he will not miss the cost of living in Connecticut.

“Wilton is a brutally expensive town to live in during your peak earning years, and there’s  lot of stress in the town now — there’s always been, but it’s increasing,” he said.

“People used to be able to retire in Wilton because they came out of companies that had pensions — that doesn’t exist for very many people anymore. Unless you’re very wealthy, it’s a challenge to live in Wilton, and I think that’s putting stress on lots and lots of people.”

Mr. Clark said he doesn’t blame the town for this.

“Wilton spends its money intelligently,” he said. “I know what I get from my tax dollars in Wilton [but] I’ve been perplexed by what I get out of my tax dollars from the state of Connecticut.”

Even in retirement, Mr. Clark said, he will continue being active member of his community.

“I don’t know if I can serve on any electorate boards because those are usually year-round jobs, but I will be doing heavy-duty volunteering wherever I go,” he said.

“In a democracy, I think everybody has an obligation to give back to their communities as best they can.”