It was standing room only at Santa Clara Fire Chief Bill Kelly’s retirement coffee at City Hall. And all of those who spoke agreed: working with Kelly, in the words of Santa Clara County Fire Department Chief Tony Bowden, “had a huge impact on my career.”
But when it came Kelly’s time to speak, the 34-year Fire Department veteran only wanted to talk about the people he had worked with and their huge impact on him.
“You don’t know how good this team is until you’re on the receiving end,” he said, describing how paramedics had helped his son through a respiratory crisis.
“I remember feeling so proud to be on that team. And I’m so proud to be your chief.”
He had some special words for one former colleague: former City Manager Jennifer Sparacino, who appointed him to the Department’s top post.
“She inspired ethical behavior,” he said. “She set a great example of taking the tougher ethical way, over the easier pragmatic way.”
To be a Fire Chief was a professional honor, Kelly said. “But I’m blessed to work for Santa Clara.”