The highlight of Bill Nelson’s retirement party Friday was when he juggled three fake mice.
Around 60 or 70 of Nelson’s colleagues turned out to wish him well as the area engineer stepped down after 32 years with the Texas Department of Transportation – the last 15 running the Decatur office, which is responsible for roadways in Wise and Jack counties.
The mice, along with plastic spiders and other assorted critters, were presented to him by a former co-worker to commemorate the fake critters he was known to hide in her desk.
The juggling act ended when he tossed one of the mice in her direction. She did not scream – after working with Nelson for 10 years, she was used to it.
Co-workers and former co-workers from the Decatur, Stephenville and Fort Worth offices told Bill Nelson stories for more than an hour following the showing of a 10-minute video that touched on a few highlights of Nelson’s career with TxDOT.
“I have had the opportunity to work with some good people,” he said. “Not just good at your jobs, but good people.
“I’ve had the opportunity to do some different things, to think outside the box a little bit,” he added. “I appreciate the people who’ve been willing to go there with me – and on more than one occasion rescue me from myself or drag me back into the box.”
“It’s been a pleasure to work with all of you.”
Nelson’s stamp and signature were on the first set of plans transmitted electronically to Austin from the Fort Worth district office, and it is at his suggestion that retirees from the Texas Department of Transportation get dominoes as a parting gift.
And yes, Nelson too received a box of dominoes, along with a knife and other gifts.
He leaves TxDOT with an impressive list of accomplishments.
His resum includes the recently-completed Texas 114/Farm Road 51 overpass bridge between Boyd and Bridgeport, the Lost Creek Bridge on U.S. 281 in Jacksboro, and the Sunset Hill Ramp from U.S. 380 East to U.S. 81/287 South in Decatur. Nelson also oversaw the widening of 24 miles of U.S. 380 between Bridgeport and the Denton County line.
A graduate of Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, he began his career with TxDOT in the Fort Worth District’s Tarrant County Design and Construction offices in 1982.
He transferred to the Erath/Hood/Somervell County Area office as assistant area engineer in 1988 and came to work in Decatur as area engineer for Wise and Jack counties in 1999.
While in Tarrant County, Nelson worked in the design, survey and construction offices, gaining experience that would make him an effective leader for the Decatur Area Office.
“We extend our appreciation for his dedicated service to the department and to the citizens of the state of Texas, and wish him success in all future endeavors, in addition to a healthy and happy retirement,” Brian Barth, interim Fort Worth district engineer, said.
Other road improvements during his tenure include:
- Texas 114 east of Rhome, two-lane into a four-lane divided highway;
- U.S. 380 West, Decatur to Bridgeport, two-lane into four-lane divided highway;
- U.S. 380 eastbound to southbound U.S. 81/287, ramp connection;
- Farm Road 730 at U.S. 81/287, turnaround added, bridge replacement;
- U.S. 380 East, Decatur to Denton County line, two-lane into four-lane divided highway;
- Farm Road 1655 at Big Sandy, new bridge (15 spans, 1,275 feet long);
- U.S. 281, Jacksboro, Lost Creek Bridge replacement.
Also, numerous county road bridges were replaced throughout Jack and Wise counties.
In retirement, Bill and his wife, Starla, plan to work on their farm in Chico and continue family history research. He also plans to stay involved in their daughters’ school activities and visit with their first grandchild, Bryson, in Washington State where their son is stationed in the military.
The entire family was on hand for Friday’s party.