Everyone but the guest of honor donned a colorful tie Saturday evening in the Grange Hall to celebrate the retirement of Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss. Personal touches made the evening a night to remember as students dressed up in Mr. Weiss’s old costumes ranging from Yoda to a panda bear, in honor of his favorite holiday. A selection of his favorite foods were catered including grilled cheese, mini corn dogs and hamburgers (nothing green). Each table came complete with a box of blocks to play with, harkening back to his days teaching kindergarten.

As a nod to his career as a kindergarten teacher, each table Saturday had a set of blocks. — Mark Lovewell

And the guest book was Axle Annie, a story about deciding on a snow day, which the students thought was the superintendent’s most important job.

“Jim really defied any pedestrian label,” said Dan Seklecki, former director of special education services for the Vineyard schools. “He was unique and true to himself. He knew the kids and knew the families and that is a resource that is not replicated easily.”

As people remembered Mr. Weiss’s 46-year career, the last 10 of them spent on the Vineyard, they said he always put children first and was open and transparent.

“You can be trusted and your word is your bond,” said Judy Crawford, chairman of the YMCA, who worked with Mr. Weiss on several projects. She presented him with the Volunteer of the Year award as well as a full family membership for the coming academic year that will be donated to a deserving family in his name.

Guests donned colorful ties as a tribute to Mr. Weiss. — Mark Lovewell

There were gifts from all the schools, ranging from paintings to a cookie jar to a paper mache cow. He received a letter of congratulations from the House of Representatives and two bottles of scotch. The Jim Weiss Student Activity Fund was created in his honor and funded by the ticket sales to the party as well as donations.

“He made it a priority to get to know the district and the people,” said longtime Edgartown school committee member David Rossi, who presented the state house proclamation.“He was a great collaborator, he brought everybody in right away and that’s how he had the success he had.”

Guests included teachers from Island schools as well as family members and friends from other school districts.

A lasting legacy: the Jim Weiss Student Activity Fund has been created in the retiring superintendent's honor. — Mark Lovewell

Teacher Eve Heyman from the Oak Bluffs school fondly remembered how at their first meeting, she was confrontational but Mr. Weiss called it passion. “Frankly, it was insubordination,” she laughed, and presented him with a bottle of scotch with a customized label.

Pat Goyette, a 25-year friend from the Hampton school board remembered how much Mr. Weiss cared for the administration as well as the students. She recalled how when he was considering leaving Hampton, she said: “After your wife, tell me next, because I’m not staying without you.”

Ellen Hume-Howard, curriculum director of the Sanborn school district, said, “We haven’t been the same since he left, but we have definitely been a better district because of him.”

When Mr. Weiss stood to speak, he recalled the Yiddish word bashert, which translates “it was meant to be.”

“Ten years ago, bashert was my life,” the retiring superintendent said. “I was meant to come to Martha’s Vineyard.”