The Lebanon Housing Authority said goodbye to its exiting Executive Director Henry Harding Monday with a retirement reception at the Housing Authority in Upton Heights.
Harding served for 29 years to the LHA and announced his retirement in June but has stayed on to serve until a replacement was found and trained.
Friends, family and community members came out to say goodbye Harding and thank him for his many years of service.
“I want to thank Henry for his time and investment in the community and all he was able to accomplish,” Mayor Philip Craighead said. “The last few years we’ve made a lot of strides and helped a lot of people and we still have a lot to accomplish. But he’s done a great job and we really do appreciate it.”
Board member Liz Reese said Harding didn’t really want a reception thrown for him and no one wanted to say goodbye anyway.
“We’ve had our ups and downs on the board, but Henry always made us work it out. And he’ll always be here in our hearts.
“I just want to thank you from the current board and all of the previous boards and previous residents you’ve served,” Reese said. “You were always there to calm me down, and we’re going to miss you and the staff is going to miss you.”
Harding’s LHA staff then said a tearful goodbye to him and thanked him for all he had taught them.
Miss Hattie Bryant, longtime Lebanon Schools teacher and namesake for Winfree Bryant Middle School, then chimed in.
“I’ve been a neighbor of the Housing Authority all of my life and I’ve known and worked with him for many years and Henry was always so kind,” Bryant said. “I want to congratulate Mr. Harding on his years spent and I enjoyed him being our neighbor.”
Harding’s wife Brenda said he had always been her rock and it was time for him to come home for them to enjoy each other.
“We’re going to enjoy the boat and do some traveling,” she said.
Patrick Johnson, who will be taking over for Harding as executive director, said he knew he couldn’t replace him.
“The shoes cannot be filled and the foundation has been laid,” Johnson said. “People don’t know all that you do behind the scenes and I want to thank you for everything you’ve done.”
Harding said he appreciated everyone who came out to say goodbye and he, in fact, didn’t want a celebration.
“It makes me feel good to see all of these people show up,” Harding said. “It’s been a long 29 years and we’ve made a lot of progress. Now the board and everyone is going to have to work with Patrick and it’s going to take cooperation from everyone to make it all come together.”