COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Many pools are draining the water and pulling out the pool cover. For over 40 years, the same person has been in charge of Columbiana’s Firestone Pool.
Monday was the final time Terry Shaffer closed the door on another summer in the sun.
Jacob Thompson: “Did you see yourself lasting 40 plus years?”
Terry Shaffer: “No. Oh gosh, no. I barely thought I’d make one year, but here I am 41 years later, and honestly, it’s a cliché, but it’s been a blur.”
For many residents of Columbiana, Firestone Pool has been a staple of summer, and for most of his adult life, Shaffer has been the man running it, hiring 25 to 30 life guards a year since the 80s, as a young 22-year-old.
“Our boss had retired from the park and I got bumped up to the next position, which was this one,” he said.
Inside his office, he has pictures of the pool staff from every year, dating back to 1985. Since then, he’s hired hundreds of employees, and about three weeks ago, many of them came to surprise him.
“It just blew me away. I just looked around and there were three girls from my first summer, and it meant so much to me,” Shaffer said.
He has even gotten to the point where he’s hired former employees’ grandkids.
Many former employees told him it was the best job they’ve had.
“When you deal with the public, it’s a no win situation, but we really have nice people who come here and swim. We call them the ‘poolies.’ They come year after year after year, and a lot of them don’t live here in town,” Shaffer said.
In his 41 years, Shaffer has saved a number of people and seen his guards perform saves. He says you don’t think about saving someone until afterwards.
“Then, afterwards, you sit there and start to think, ‘Oh my God, I just saved a life,’ and it’s just amazing. The feeling is truly amazing,” he said.
Shaffer says he will stay away from Firestone Pool next year so no one thinks he’ll be spying on them.
His official retirement will happen at the start of 2022.
Afterwards, he plans to spend time with his wife and kids.