The man who served as Toms River's first Deputy Clerk and became known as "Mr. Dover Township" recently was honored by officials for his contributions to the township.
L. Manuel Hirshblond, whose name adorns a town hall meeting room, would go on to become township clerk and business administrator, overseeing 30 years of residential growth beginning in the 1960s.
"It's well deserved," said Mayor Thomas Kelaher. "I've known Manny for probably half a century and Manny's been around whenever there's been something good going on in town."
According to current clerk Mark Mutter, Hirshblond, a life-long township resident in 1962 became the first Deputy Clerk of Dover Township — well before the township officially became known as Toms River in 2006. He became Clerk in 1967 and then Clerk-Administrator in 1970, where he served until retiring in 1989.
Under Hirshblond, township ordinances were codified and Dover acquired Ortley Beach properties and opened the Bey Lea Golf Course, Winding River Park using Green Acres funds, Mutter said.
Hirshblond was also administrator when the law enforcement center, Winding River Ice Rink and new municipal building opened in the 1970s, according to Mutter.
"He truly was in the history of our town 'Mr. Dover Township,'" said Mutter, who was mentored by Hirshblond.
"Manny was the glue that held Dover Township together. Manny, we're proud of you and I'm glad to make this presentation," Kelaher said.
Hirshblond reflected on his time working for the township, where he also served in various civic organizations. He made reference to the portraits of Toms River's mayors hanging in the room.
"I worked with almost everybody on that wall over there, except the last few," Hirshblond said. "I had fun."
A black-and-white portrait of Hirshblond, taken years ago, hangs in the meeting room named in his honor upon retirement about 24 years ago.
"The picture goes with the name on the room," the mayor said.
"That's from when I had hair," Hirshblond said, referring to the photo.
When Kelaher asked if he would do it all over again, Hirshblond responded: "Maybe if I were 20 years younger."
Toms River previously honored Hirshblond in 2009, when Oct. 16 was dedicated to him as he retired from the Municipal Clerks Association. A resolution passed by the Township Council urged "all of our citizens to look at the life and career of Manny Hirshblond as a role model for good citizenship, but more importantly, for selfless service to one’s fellow human being."