Gene Morsching, Jay Tobin, & Keith Sharisky all retiring Friday

ABERDEEN, S.D.(Press Release) – Three men with almost a century of experience in Aberdeen are retiring: Gene Morsching, 37 years at Parks and Recreation; Jay Tobin, 36 years at Police Department; and Keith Sharisky, 25 years at Fire and Rescue. All three are retiring on May 17, 2024.

None of them were originally from Aberdeen.

“People think I’m from Aberdeen because I’ve been here so long,” Gene said.

Their next guess is usually Redfield, Gene said, because he worked in Redfield’s Parks and Recreation for six years before moving to Aberdeen. Gene is originally from Huron.

Jay came from Hitchcock. He moved to Aberdeen for college and never left. Keith had already started his career as an EMT/Paramedic in Colorado before he was recruited to Aberdeen.

Each has seen a myriad of changes, both in their departments and across the city. When he first started, the Aberdeen Mall didn’t exist yet, Jay said, and that street was a dirt road.

The Parks and Recreation Department and Police Department shared buildings several times throughout the last 30 years, as new buildings were built, and old ones were renovated.

The advancements in technology really impacted Keith and Jay. As Training Chief, Keith saw changes in EMS Paramedics skills and implementation. Needles got smaller, scopes got cameras and there was more reliance on science-based practices, Keith said. At the Police Department, Jay went from handwritten reports, mountains of paper files and microcassette recorders, to bodycams and electronic reporting.

For Parks and Rec, the community changes led to a chain reaction of facility updates, Gene said. Because the new high school was built, Park and Rec was able to move into the old building and big projects were able to move forward.

“The new high school getting built was the trigger,” Gene said. “When that project was approved, all of a sudden that opened other projects, like the aquatic center.”

With a little bit of renovation, Parks and Rec have converted the old high school’s classrooms into dance studios and spaces for the wide variety of classes they offer to the community, the library into an event center with new hardwood floors and the lunchroom into a meeting space.

Memorable Moments

For Keith, delivering babies were his most memorable moments from his career. Keith helped deliver 10 babies.

“The last one I delivered was north of Groton during the flood of 2007,” Keith said.

Gene’s memorable moments were getting the new aquatic center and softball complex projects approved and completed.

“Aquatics Center was one of those significant things. We had done a study 10 years before and it didn’t come to fruition, so we had to start all over again. It took the right timing,” Gene said. “The new softball complex took a lot of planning and years of discussion before it could happen.”

Jay had a hard time picking out a specific moment, because so many different things, some good and some terrible, have happened during his career, he said.

But something people might not realize is that people will come up and thank you for taking action, Jay said.

“I had three people in one day approach me in public and they all had a word of thanks for my interaction with them,” Jay said. “At the time you take action, sometimes the people are in a difficult situation, and you help them or maybe arrest them. But the people I’ve arrested have also said thanks. It was something that needed to happen to change their life.”

One Last Goal

Before he retired, Keith had one last goal he wanted to complete: Train 80% of city staff to be CPR certified. He surpassed it! With the support of city HR and officials, Keith started working on this goal in May 2023 and finished in April 2024 with 82% of city staff certified.

“That’s the greatest gift,” Keith said. “Four out of five full time employees know how to do CPR. That makes the city safer, the county safer, and our colleagues safer.”

Plans for After

Keith is going to change his pace, but it might not be slower. He plans to work for Brown County Dispatch. Keith has already interviewed and accepted a conditional job offer.

Gene plans to spend the summer traveling, a luxury he hasn’t had in over 30 years. Since summer is one of Parks and Recreation’s busiest times, he’s always had to take his summer vacation in early May, Gene said. He plans to check off some travel wishes, as well as visit his son and granddaughter in Kentucky and his daughter in Minneapolis.

Jay also plans to enjoy his summer off, but he doesn’t have concrete plans. He just wants to enjoy the time with his family.