Milford retirees head south
MILFORD – Milford’s loss is Ecuador’s gain. Two well-known Milford public servants are soon packing their bags and heading to South America.
Chris Nervik retired last month as a captain on the Milford Police Department, the same day his wife, Johanna Johnson, retired as the special education director of the Milford School District.
Later this summer they are moving to Cotacachi, Ecuador, a town of 9,000 in the Andes Mountains, about two hours from the capital city of Quito.
Nervik and Johnson married last November and now they are "looking forward to their next great adventure," he said.
Beside pleasant weather – 70-degree daytime temperatures year round and a low cost of living, the couple were drawn to the many opportunities for community service in this developing country.
Both have been active in Milford – Johnson in the Milford Lions Club and Nervik in the Milford
Rotary Club – and they have already reached out to the respective clubs in Cotacachi. Nervik is currently working with a group that raises money to send children to school beyond sixth grade, the last free school grade in Ecuador.
The ability to do service work is one of the three reasons they are headed to this small Spanish-speaking country in the continent’s northwest corner.
The other two reasons, predictably, are the climate – no more snow – and a low cost of living that will allow them to travel as much as they wish. They just returned from a trip to Africa, and at the end of July they are going to China, where Johnson’s oldest son teaches English. When they return, they’ll have three weeks to pack and move to Cotacachi.
Why Ecuador? A few years ago, Johnson had been researching places to retire, and the country wound up among her top three choices. She went there and fell in love with it, said Nervik – "it was everything she was looking for," and, as it turned out, everything he was looking for too.
Both had been married before and knew each other through their work, since Nervik’s position as captain of the department’s support division meant the school resource officer was under his purview.
"Milford has been incredible to me, said Nervik last week during an interview in the Cabinet’s office, looking tan and energized. "I’ve enjoyed the community atmosphere. The Milford Police Department has afforded me incredible opportunities – it’s been a really good place to serve out my career."
Nervik, who is 55, had a 25-year law enforcement career that started after he first worked as a carpenter and then an electrician. His father, the late Richard Nervik, had once been a part-time police officer in Vermont and always spoke fondly of that time, said his son, who decided to try it out as a career.
He talked to Mark Schultz, then the Mont Vernon police chief, who hired him, sent him to the police academy and set up a training plan in which he would keep his day job with Warren & Johnson Electrical and do police work on nights and weekends.
"At my first shift, I knew I loved it," he said. When a position opened in Mont Vernon he went full-time and moved over to Milford in 1993.
"It’s been awesome. I had the opportunity to do so many things – go to school, get certified in accident reconstruction, work closely with kids."
Both he and Johnson consider themselves blessed, he said, that they will not have to work in their retirement, which will allow them to help others.
"How great is that?" he said, "to be open and flexible and able to say, "Sign us up. We’re in … We pinch ourselves. Who gets to do this? We do! It is not lost on us how blessed we are."
At the June 22 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, selectmen honored Nervik for his loyalty and dedication.
"You’ll be sorely missed," said board Chairman Mark Fougere who worked with Nervik for 10 years in the Milford Rotary Club.