Quincy Notre Dame Principal Ray Heilmann has announced he'll retire from the school after 39 years at the end of next school year.
Heilmann told parents and students Tuesday, and his Board and staff were notified about a week ago.
"Five years ago my wife retired from the Quincy Public School system," said Heilmann. He said they made plans that he'd retire, too, at age 60. That's his current age, but Heilmann said he decided he wanted to stay another year.
"The reaction's been some shock and other people have said 'you deserve it,' because it has to do with my family too. I'm going to be working in some capacity somewhere in Quincy after I retire from Quincy Notre Dame, but as people who know how to deal with high schools, they know it's a very busy schedule. I want to spend some evenings with my wife, or spend all evenings with my wife, I want to spend time with her,and be able to see relatives. As you see your grandchildren grow up, you want to be there at some of their games, some of their events," said Heilmann.
The grandfather of six started as an English teacher and assistant football coach at the school in 1973. He became assistant principal in 1982 and principal in 1995.
"It was a big decision," he said. "I love my job and everything about it. But there comes a time when you say it's time to spend more time with family."
Heilmann, who is a fixture at all QND events and athletic games, said he is always fully focused on his students.
"I want to be there for them. I promised the parents as well as the students that I'm going to continue to give 100 percent the last school year, just as I've always done," he said. Oh, it's going to be very emotional, my last prom, my last graduation, last Catholic Schools Week, last mass. Whatever it may be will be very emotional. But it will be total happiness and peace of mind. I always told my students, I said, outside of your eternal soul, the most important thing is to try and get peace of mind. It's not about how much money you make, it's not about positional power, it's about peace of mind. And I've had absolutely one hundred percent peace of mind for 38 years, 39 next year, and I couldn't ask for a better gift from QND and the Quincy community."
Giving a year notice also gives the Board time to get a search committee together to select a new principal, Heilmann added.
"I'm ready for the next stage of my life, to be more involved with family and other things," he said.
He said QND has been around for 146 years and will be around for another 146.
"This institution is much bigger than any individual," he said. "Life goes on. It has great teachers and great parents, it's a great institution. Whoever is principal is not the most important person."
*Contributed by Jamie Busen with our news partner, WTAD.