Chuck Raetzman is confident "the University won't miss a beat" after his departure on June 28.
"I told my staff, there's got to be a time," Raetzman, 63, said. "I know I'm young, but I want to be young enough to do other things. I don't want to be carried out of here."
Raetzman, UA assistant director of Facilities Management, started as a UA student majoring in horticulture. After graduation he entered the private sector, working for John Harlow and Associates. After eight years there he was approached by the University's physical plant director.
"He said they had challenges down here. I wasn't looking for a job," Raetzman said. "I was happy with Harlow, he taught me a lot."
But after giving it some thought, he decided he'd give it a shot for five years and return to the public sector. But five years turned to 10, 10 to 15, and now he's retiring after 32 years.
"Every year it got harder and harder to leave. In the long run it was a great choice because of the projects we've had and the people I've met," he said.
Raetzman said the biggest change he's seen is how the landscaping is handled.
"Thirty years ago there wasn't much worry about water conservation and drought-powered plants," he recalled.
People will start seeing less lawn, some hardscapes, paving and granite and zeriscape landscaping, which allows for a little lawn. Watering also has changed. Bubblers and sprinklers used to water shrubs, and now it's a computerized drip irrigation system.
"Our computerized irrigation system tells you how much water an area needs. We have a weather station it's tied into, so it depends on evaporation and ratios and formulas." Raetzman said. "It's pretty sophisticated."
Recycled water is used on the east side of campus and next will be the west side.
Although Raetzman will miss the people he's met here, that's a part of retiring.
"It's nice to be able to retire. You're happy in one way, but there's some sadness. You're not going to see the people you've seen every day over the years," he said.
Still, Raetzman won't be bored.
"I've had property in Sonoita for about 30 years. I have five acres so I planted some apple and pinon trees. I've got a little getaway place down there," he said.
There also is property in Wisconsin that has been in his family for 100 years. Fifteen years ago Raetzman and his brother planted 10,000 red pine trees to be used for lumber. The trees are 25 feet tall and he'll be heading up there to help thin out the trees.
"That means we'll probably cull 2,500 trees for pulp wood. We've got our hands full. That's why it's the right time now," he said.
Raetzman said he has appreciated his time at the University.
"It's been one heck of a ride, there's no doubt about that," he said. "I think this is a great University and a great place to work, and the benefits are outstanding."