BLOOMFIELD — An infectious font of energy and enthusiasm, Bernadette Smith loves Bloomfield and loves its people.

But with three sons and five grandchildren, she wants to dedicate more time to family and her friends.

Smith announced plans to retire March 1.

"I hate to, but it's time," Smith said. Besides doting on her grandchildren, she said she also wants to dedicate more time to taking cruises with friends, to visit her brother in Galveston, and swing a golf club, too.

Since 1989, Smith has volunteered on the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, and the last five years as the Chamber's executive director.

Smith, who turns 66 in March, has been actively promoting the city since her arrival at age ten from Galveston, Texas, where she was born.

But Bloomfield will always be home for Smith, who is responsible for a lot of community events residents consider traditions.

During her time on the Chamber, she introduced the popular Bloomfield Days duck race. She also established the caring tree and "Feed the Family," two fundraisers that help struggling families afford the holiday season.

Smith came by her strong sense of civic pride honestly. Her mother, Ellen, was the chamber's secretary in the 70s.

"My mother, who was a judge and ran an income tax business, was always involved in the community, working well with people, helping local groups, that it just stuck," Smith said.


While she may be retiring, Smith insisted she will be a lifelong city booster and will stay loosely involved with the chamber long enough to support and take part in the June balloon rally, her favorite event of the year.

"I have really had such a wonderful time," Smith said of her years spent promoting the city she loves. "The people make it special. You can call somebody on the phone and before you get out your question, they're saying yes' and offering to help."

Mayor Scott Eckstein, who went to school with Smith's eldest son, has worked with Smith on many programs and fundraisers.

"It's a huge loss to see her step down," Eckstein said. "Bernadette's an amazing person who is always full of energy, charm and easy to work with. I consider her a good friend."

Smith may be vacating her director's position with the chamber, but she vows to continue her lifelong passion to help the city of Bloomfield improve. She cited the beautification of the city as high on her wish list.

"I'm so sad but excited at the same time," she said. "Everybody who I've gotten to know - from the mayor, city manager, councilors, the Parks and Recreation Department, fire, police — they all know I'm not leaving, so they can call me anytime."