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After 34 years, Beloved Attorney Retires with Tears, Standing Ovations, Gifts, and Well Wishes

Attorney Kristina P. Hadinger — after 34 years of dedicated service to Montgomery Township — retired from her position as township attorney in July.

Hadinger “set a standard for excellence with civility, humility, determination, professionalism, patience, and good humor,” according to the resolution Township Committee passed in her honor.

Photo: Kristina P. Hadinger (center) with Montgomery Township Committee and staff members.

“She kept the township out of trouble,” according to Mayor Mark Conforti, by just “shaking her head and pursing her lips.”

“Or the sigh,” Township Administrator Donato Nieman added with a smile.

Perhaps Deputy Mayor Christine Madrid best summed it up, telling Hadinger: “I’ve never met anyone who’s silence speaks quite as loud. Thank you for being so dedicated and such a good friend to this township.”

Township Committeewoman Patricia Graham, who is also an attorney, talked about trickiness of being a township attorney, and the difficulty in balancing one’s primary allegiance, one’s oath of office, to the municipality, and the importance of serving the law and the town, rather than the five elected officials — no matter the political affiliations.

“We’ve been so lucky,” Graham told Hadinger. “You give wise counsel that we can trust. Your clients fully trust you. Trust is not easily earned, and you absolutely earned it.”

After a standing ovation from a crowd of about 50 well-wishers, including Freeholder Mark Caliguire and other previous Montgomery mayors, elected officials, staff, and her family, Hadinger spoke.

“If I’m not seeing too well, it’s tears,” she said. “If I can’t read my notes, I apologize.”

“I am filled with immeasurable gratitude for this undeserved and certainly touching outpouring of support,” she said, “not just for tonight, but for each and every moment — even the supremely challenging ones — that my firm and I have had serving Montgomery Township.”

Hadinger said she was 29 years old Township Committee members Cathy Frank-White, Don Matthews, Dan Huttar, the late Bob Kress and Ray Hunt appointed her in September 1984.

“They took what I consider a huge gamble appointing me,” she said. “I can say I was all but clueless.”

Hadinger said she had three chief role models. Her father, the late Winthrop Pike, who served on the Princeton Regional School Board for 14 years and then on the Princeton Township Committee for six years, including stints as mayor.

Her second role model includes her father-in-law, the late Alfred Hadinger, Sr., who served as the mayor of Ridgewood. And, finally, her law partner, Edwin Schmierer, who served as attorney for both Princeton township and borough before consolidation.

“For years, my dad, Al, and Ed — all military veterans — helped to center me on the importance of local government and why it matters,” she said. “My dad and father-in-law were humble men ... who simply wanted to do what was best for their communities.”

Hadinger also thanked her children and husband, Alfred Hadinger, Jr., retired as Village Elementary School vice principal, who all attended her final official meeting on July 19.

Hadinger will remain a member of her law firm, Mason, Griffin & Pierson, P.C. of Princeton, and will continue to reside in Montgomery, where, she says, “I will remain on call

and always available.” ■

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