The leader of the city department that oversees civil rights enforcement is retiring after 34 years on the job.
Rehelio Samuel, director of the city's Human Relations Department, will retire Feb. 1, City Hall leaders announced Wednesday.
"The citizens of Lawrence can credit Rehelio and his long public service with helping create the diverse and tolerant community that we have today," City Manager David Corliss said. "He and his department have been strong proponents for human civil rights in our community. We all need to thank Rehelio for his service."
Samuel said he was leaving his position to spend more time with family members, some of whom are in poor health.
"I feel like this is a time that I just really need to focus more on my family," Samuel said.
Samuel, who is the longest serving department head in the city, said he was proud of his tenure. The department is responsible for investigating and resolving complaints from people who allege unlawful discrimination in matters of employment and housing.
Samuel said the department made significant efforts to educate the public about civil rights issues.
"We are an enforcement agency, but if you are going to enforce the law, you need to educate people about what the law is," Samuel said. "It is important to have an informed community, and I'm proud of the role we've played in that."
Samuel was the recipient of the 2002 Buford Watson Award presented by the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and the 2003 Kansas Human Relations Association and League of Kansas Municipalities Member of the Year Award.
Samuel is the second city department head to announce his retirement in the last week. Fred DeVictor, the city's director of Parks and Recreation, announced Friday that he would retire in March. He has been with the city since 1970 and has served as the director of Parks and Recreation since 1975.