"Wherever you go in town to a public building, you find a plaque with Ray's name on it, it seems," said Mayor Pat Murphy.

"He's always been willing to give of his time beyond the duties of whatever board or council he was serving on," she added. "Ray's got a big heart. He was all in."

New Milford's Ray O'Brien retired in late November after more than four decades' public service.

O'Brien, 77, attended his last meeting Nov. 25 as a member of the Town Council.

He had been a member of the Board of Selectmen from 1975 until charter revision, when the town's legislative body became known in 1987 as the Town Council.

With the exception of two years, he has served on the council since.

"It has been a great and rare privilege to serve a tenure covering 41 years," O'Brien told his fellow council members. "Based on participation in over 800 meetings over those years, I have never served with better people."

O'Brien began his public service as a member of the town's Sewer Commission from 1970 to 1975.

He represented the town on the Housatonic Resource Recovery Authority from 1989 to 1993 and again from 2003 to 2007.

In 2002 and 2010, he sat on the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority's board of directors.

He also served on building committees for two schools, as well as the Community Ambulance Facility Building Committee.

Mayor Pat Murphy presented O'Brien with a plaque on Nov. 25 for his years of service to the town.

"Ray always let me know how I was doing, how we were doing on the council," said Murphy of her former council vice chairman. "He has served the people of New Milford well."

Pete Bass, newly elected Town Council vice chairman and Republican Town Committee chairman, said during his years on the Town Council he turned many times to O'Brien for "advice and the history of an issue."

"Ray has been a tremendous asset to the town," Bass said. "The citizens at large have elected him again and again. It is a true loss to the town having Ray step down. I commend him for his 41 years of service."

Democratic councilman Frank Wargo said, although he and O'Brien were on different sides of the aisle politically, he always respected his peer.

"Ray will be greatly missed," Wargo said. "I always respected his diligence and his researching of items before the council. Although I often didn't agree with him, I respected him for that. We will miss him."