John Furino may be retiring from the Department of Public Safety as a security resource officer, but that doesn’t mean he plans to slow down. When he retires in June, he will have spent 20 years at Akron Children’s. Working in the security field was actually a second career for John who worked as a barber for 32 years before starting his second act. As far as what retirement holds – the 75-year-old hopes to take a cruise to Alaska and tour Europe with his rock band.
What brought you to Children’s?
It was a long and circuitous route. From 1966-1980 I owned my own barber shop in Kent. In 1980 I was approached by a customer who worked at General Tire about whether I had any interest in becoming their company barber. The steady pay, health and retirement benefits and weekends off clinched the deal for me. In 1987 General Tire was sold and there were rumors the company would move. One of the guys whose hair I cut was the security supervisor for General Tire and he offered me a part-time gig. I did double duty as the barber and a security officer until the company finally moved in 1995. From 1995-1997 I worked for Revco in their Twinsburg headquarters until they were sold to CVS. One of the guys who worked for me also worked at Children’s and encouraged me to apply. I started in 1998.
What has given you the most satisfaction working here?
This is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. The people I work for and with are a pleasure. Working with that team and knowing I was helping people was very gratifying.
Music has been a constant passion in John Furino’s life. He’s been a musician since age 12 — singing and playing tenor saxophone and guitar. Here, he sings at Rebel Night in New York City.Any memorable moments?
Meeting Governor Bob Taft when he was here to visit a family member back in 2002. I was part of the security team that greeted him and he was very friendly. We just treated each other like normal people and talked about our families.
Has there been a special patient who’s made an impression on you?
There is a young girl I met maybe 15 years ago when she was 12. She has cystic fibrosis and every time I would see her she always had such a wonderful attitude. We became friends over the years and I hope I encouraged her as much as she was a bright light to me. She has really benefited from the advancements in CF treatment.
What do you look forward to most about retirement?
Since I work 2 days a week I already consider myself semi-retired. I have learned that I “do nothing” quite well. My wife and I like to go to Amish country, and we also like to go watch our 15-year-old granddaughter play travel softball.
Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know?
I’ve been a musician since age 12. I play tenor saxophone and guitar, and I am also lead singer in my own 50s rock band called Johnny Fay and the Bel-Aires. In 1960 we signed a record deal with Dani Records out of Cleveland. We wrote and played our own original music. The record company was the one that changed my name to Johnny Fay. Our recording career didn’t go anywhere because no one was buying our records.
One day I was watching YouTube and came across a French band playing one of my songs. Apparently, Johnny Fay and the Bel-Aires records are collectors’ items in Europe! Anyway, I wrote to the band and they invited me to tour Europe with them in the summer of 2012 (they paid all my expenses too). We went to France, England, Spain, Belgium, Amsterdam and Italy. I’m hoping to go back and play with them again in 2019.
For those interested in hearing us locally we usually play once a month in places like Akron, Cleveland and Columbus.
What can’t you live without?
My wife, 2 sons and 3 granddaughters, as well as my music. They are my joys in life.
What are you going to miss most about Akron Children’s?
Everything. I’ve enjoyed every second. I’m leaving because it’s time. Technology is moving forward and there are a lot of changes coming to the Department of Public Safety that are going to make the hospital an even safer place. At my age, I don’t have the desire or the dedication to learn all the new stuff, so it seemed like a good time to exit gracefully – but I have no regrets.