Howard Kroplick has spent the past seven years raising millions of dollars to restore landmarks and place historical markers across North Hempstead Town.
Now he says he needs to spend more time leaving his mark on his personal life.
Kroplick, who has been town historian since 2012, resigned this month from the volunteer position, and the town is seeking a replacement. Kroplick said his recent birthday spurred thoughts of his next chapter, noting that he turned 70 in May.
At that age, you start wondering, "Where you want to spend the next decade of your life," said Kroplick, who lives in East Hills.
"I need to spend a little more time focusing on my wife, my family and myself," he said.
A few days after announcing his departure, Kroplick flew to Los Angeles with his wife, Roz, to help their daughter Dana unpack after moving into a new apartment.
"Two months ago, my wife would have gone by herself," Kroplick said.
Roz Kroplick said her husband will now have a better work-life balance.
"He will be more present, and he can give more of himself to me, to us, to the kids, and he can also have time for himself," she said. "Like, we share Mets [season] tickets with two friends, and now he'll be able to go more."
Kroplick was appointed by then-Supervisor Jon Kaiman to replace Joan Kent.
Kroplick said two highlights from his time as historian are relocating the Mackay Horse Statue in 2013 and receiving the Edmund J. Winslow Local Government Historian Award for Excellence in 2016 from the Association of Public Historians of New York State. He said the property owners where the statue once stood had planned to get rid of it.
"There was a chance it was going to be torn down, but we convinced him to donate it to the town and we raised funds to take it and have it restored and moved to Gerry Park," Kroplick said. "Every time I pass that statue, I have a smile on my face."
Supervisor Judi Bosworth said that Kroplick brought a contagious joy and enthusiasm to his work and that he will be missed.
"He tackles any and all historical projects like an explorer revealing a hidden treasure," Bosworth said. "He has educated us on our local history and the people who have lived here before us, which is a wonderful and meaningful gift."
Kroplick will remain president of the Long Island Motor Parkway Preservation Society and the Roslyn Landmark Society.
Bosworth said the town is looking for a successor who has an extensive knowledge of North Hempstead Town combined with a curiosity and love of history.
Kroplick's advice for his replacement: Gain support from town officials, especially the supervisor, town clerk and council members, "because those are the people who can get things done."
"The historian job is a bully pulpit to talk about restoring historical sites, but it doesn't have a lot of power in terms of getting things through," Kroplick said. "You have to work well with others."
MOMENTS IN HISTORY
- Howard Kroplick chaired a committee that oversaw the relocation of the Mackay Horse Statue to Roslyn's Gerry Pond Park in October 2013.
- Under Kroplick, the town placed a historical marker in Roslyn Harbor at Cedarmere, the home of William Cullen Bryant, in February 2013.
- He helped secure a $40,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that was used to clean up Townsend Cemetery in East Hills in May 2014.
- Under Kroplick, the North Hempstead Town Council approved designating Old Courthouse Road Motor Parkway Bridge as the town's 18th landmark, in June 2015.
- Kroplick landed a $25,000 grant from North Hempstead Town and used it to restore the Hicks Memorial Centre bridge and seating area that honors ASPCA founder Henry Bergh at Roslyn's Gerry Pond Park in November 2016.
- He oversaw the installation of a historical marker at Monfort Cemetery in Port Washington in May 2018.
- Kroplick landed a $500,000 grant from the New York State Office of Parks and Historic Preservation in December 2018 to help restore the Roslyn Grist Mill.