After dedicating 41 years to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Deputy Chief of the Construction and Engineering Division Jeffrey Fritz is deciding to retire. His four decades of service certainly made an impact – so much so that his colleagues described him as a “walking Wikipedia on all things Corps of Engineers.”
Fritz spent all but three months of his career working for the Pittsburgh District. During those three months, he didn’t go far: just to the 11th floor where he worked for the risk management center.
Over the years, Fritz has had the opportunity to work on several projects in various positions. The one that stood out the most was constructing the lock and dam at Grays Landing in Masontown, Pennsylvania, along the Monongahela River.
“It was a bare riverbank when we started there. When I left, the lock was fully constructed and operational, and the dam was partially done,” Fritz said. “Just watching something being built and responsible for something going from nothing to two large concrete structures that can handle navigation traffic, that was a fantastic experience.”
Lenna Hawkins, deputy district engineer, attended college with Fritz at the University of Pittsburgh and has worked with him during her whole career at the corps. Hawkins describes Fritz as, “easygoing, action-oriented, with a great sense of humor.” Many district employees echo these same qualities.
After talking to people who have retired in the last couple of years, Fritz says that retirement was an easy decision. He is going to take this newfound free time to relax and travel.
Fritz has already begun planning his first trip after retirement, Bali in early 2023. He said he will miss working with his colleagues every day, but he plans on returning as a rehire, a retiree who works as needed. Where he will work one day a week to help redesign the office space for Hawkins.
Fritz has advice for Dave Heidish, who will be assuming Fritz’ position after he retires, “Strap in and hang on!” He knows Heidish well and has complete faith in him, saying, “He’s here to help the people take care of the people, and you know, that needs to be his number one focus.”
As he departs his 41-year-long career, Fritz offered his closing thoughts to other corps employees, “There are so many opportunities and if you get bored and discouraged in what you’re doing, don’t blame the corps. There are lots of opportunities out there. We can work all over the world, so just give it a chance and broaden your horizons.”