A vice president at the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District concluded a quarter century's service to the South Shore Line on Friday.
John Parsons retired as vice president of planning and marketing, completing a four-decade career in transportation management. He joined NICTD in 1992 after having run the railroad office at the Indiana Department of Transportation.
"No one's more dedicated than John Parsons," NICTD President Michael Noland said at the district's final meeting of the year last month. "He wears about six different hats."
Noland said Parsons' responsibilities ranged from various planning and marketing activities to government and media relations.
"He's been my right hand since I've been here," Noland said. "No one knows more about the history of the operation."
Parsons was hired by former general manager Gerald Hanas. "He warned me — this railroad can consume you," Parsons said.
He said he soon discovered "the fantastic people who work here."
"It's been a remarkable run," he said.
Parsons' retirement comes after several others at the South Shore in 2017, including Police Chief Bob Byrd's. Byrd said he approached Hanas in 1983, when he was a Lake County police officer and the South Shore was experiencing some crime problems.
NICTD had no full-time police then. It now has eight full-time officers as well as some part-time officers from local departments.
Lieutenant Jesse Watts is serving as interim chief.
"We're leaving the department in good hands," Byrd said.
Parsons and Byrd have joined another former NICTD administrator, Joe Crnkovich, in retirement. Crnkovich recently left his post as the railroad's grant administrator after 23 years. He also expressed gratitude to Hanas for hiring him at his last meeting.
Noland said Crnkovich was critical to securing funding for South Shore projects.
"He guided this railroad through several decades worth of construction projects," Noland said.
As it continues to plan its major capital projects, NICTD has hired several new staff members during the last two years, people Parsons called "energetic, ambitious, fantastic professionals."