After retiring from the Jersey Central Power & Light Company in the summer of 2016, Bob Fialcowitz has been enjoying a life of leisure, spending most of his time watching reruns of his favorite 1960s TV sitcoms from the comfort of a recliner at his longtime Hopatcong home.
Actually, he’s among increasing numbers of post-career people who are chipping away at the Leave-it-to-Beaver-era stereotype of retirement.
Bob did retire from JCP&L last year and has lived in the Hopatcong home since 1983, but you’re more likely to spot him in the woods or out on the lake than in the warm embrace of a La-Z-Boy in his living room.
“I am a novice at this retirement thing,” he admits, although he’s not sitting around trying to figure out what to do next.
Bob grew up in Mine Hill, attended Dover High School and earned a degree in accounting and finance at the University of New Hampshire. He and his wife, Kim, have two sons, Nicholas and Adam, and two grandchildren, 6-year-old Nathan and 4-year-old Colton.
An avid cyclist, he can hearken back to the days when his first job was as a paperboy, riding a bicycle around his neighborhood to deliver the Dover Advance. The newspaper folded in 1965, but Bob never stopped pedaling.
The 64-year-old does a lot of mountain biking in the area and has tackled multi-day bicycle tours, including cycling around Lake Champlain and, recently, on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath in Washington, D.C., to the Great Allegheny Passage and all the way to Pittsburg, Pa.
Bob has also taken up kayaking and has a goal of paddling all 62 miles of Lake Hopatcong shoreline and, as of Thanksgiving, was about 85 percent of the way there. As if that’s not enough to keep him in shape, he also likes to work on his tennis, golf and cross-country skiing skills.
Bob’s volunteer résumé includes the Sussex County Historical Society, Boy Scouts of America and, of course, the Lake Hopatcong Foundation. He has been a great contributor of time and energy to the building of the new Lake Hopatcong Trail.
The LHF caught Bob’s attention when reading an article about the proposed Lake Hopatcong Trail, which will one day circle the entire lake, in a Sunday edition of the New Jersey Herald.
“I have a great appreciation for the outdoors and always wanted to do trail maintenance work on the Appalachian Trail,” he explains, “so the opportunity to help build a foot trail circling Lake Hopatcong fit one of my goals.”
Bob’s first volunteer foray with the Foundation came on a stretch of trail that crossed a field of imposing boulders.
“An instructor from the NY/NJ Trail Conference trained us on building and maintaining a trail,” he recalls. “His indoctrination plan was to see how may blisters we could acquire by swinging sledge hammers to break up those huge boulders!”
Undaunted by that experience, Bob continued tackling trail work for the LHF and has signed on to do ongoing maintenance of several spur trails and a section of the main Lake Hopatcong Trail. Apparently, his bucket list has nothing to do with recliners or televisions.
“Bob played a big role in getting the first section of the trail blazed and he is our most active trail maintainer,” said Holly Odgers, on behalf of the LHF. “He has contributed an enormous amount of time and effort to help make the trail what it is today.”
“I’ve enjoyed working with the great group of volunteers who have shown a real appreciation of the merits of hiking,” says Bob, of his LHF trail volunteer colleagues. “I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the woods in and around Hopatcong, and look forward to helping complete the Lake Hopatcong Trail.”