Toms River Mayor Maurice "Mo" Hill holds a certificate commemorating the naming of the building at 54 Washington Street in honor of Al Dietrich. Hill presented the certificate to Dietrich's children (l-r) Darren, Debbie Schwartz, and Doug, as their brother Danny observed proudly from the crowd.

‘Al Dietrich Building’ now a part of Partnership Health Center

Albert “Al” Dietrich, who served as superintendent of Toms River Regional Schools for more than a decade and who passed away earlier this year, was honored at a ceremony in downtown Toms River yesterday. Township, district, and community leaders came together with Dietrich’s family members to celebrate his legacy, which now includes a building named in his honor.

The “Albert Dietrich Building” is the new name for the site at Partnership Health Center at 54 Washington Street. It is where Dietrich served as district superintendent from 1981-1991, before the business offices were moved to Hooper Avenue.

“A person that was honored as Toms River’s ‘Man of the Year' not once but twice, and led the Toms River School District as superintendent until he retired,” said Superintendent Stephen Genco before describing how Dietrich fully embodied Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “Man in the Arena” quote.

“When speaking to people about Mr. Dietrich, they described him as a true leader who led by example. Not someone with a huge ego but as somebody who truly cared about the people he served,” said Genco.

A plaque was mounted at the site to mark the naming. “Under Al’s leadership,” it reads, “the district received many awards for its outstanding achievements in the state of New Jersey. One of the awards Al was most proud of was the development of an Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program. He received honors from President Reagan for this program.”

A petition with hundreds of signatures led by Christopher Raimann was the catalyst for renaming the building, which is operated in part by the district but owned by the town. So district leaders worked alongside township officials to make it happen.

Toms River Mayor Maurice "Mo" Hill, after joking about how persistent Raimann was about ensuring the building was named in honor of the school district and community ambassador, said that such relentlessness on Dietrich's behalf was warranted, and that the honor was well deserved. Hill then presented Dietrich's children with a certificate commemorating the event and distinction.

Dietrich began his educational career as an English teacher in 1961, at one time served as president of the Toms River Education Association, and was an Air Force veteran who received the American Spirit of Honor Award.

“The American Spirit Award recognizes an individual who best exemplifies the outstanding qualities of the American spirit, including teamwork, optimism, courage, and sacrifice, and who inspires the exploration and expression of these values through their own life and work,” said Toms River School Board President Joseph Nardini, a friend of Dietrich’s for nearly 40 years. “Well that kind of sums up the person that Al was.”

Dietrich continued to play an important role within the district and Toms River following his tenure as superintendent. He remained involved in school and community events, was often sought for advice, and remained proud of family members–particularly his children–who served as district educators and carried on his humble but impactful legacy.

“Although I didn’t meet him,” said Genco, “I only have to know the type of person that he was from his daughter to know he was a special person. I have known [district Supervisor of Health] Deb [Schwartz] for a long time and she has always exemplified leadership in a personal and classful way.”

Speaking about her father, Schwartz said, "It is prophetic that 54 Washington Street is now dedicated in his name, as this place is still taking care of teachers–really, all of us–through the Partnership.

"I know my father is smiling today."

Senior Reveal
From left to right, TRRS Assistant Superintendents Rich Fastnacht and Cara DiMeo; board members Michele Williams and Lisa Contessa; Superintendent Stephen Genco; and board members Alex Mizenko, Ashley Palmaire, Kathy Egan, Anna Polozzo, and Joe Nardini

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