Bob Vollmer, Indiana's oldest state employee at the prime age of 102, is retiring after nearly six decades on the job. His last day as a surveyor for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will be Feb. 6.
“Your body tells you when it’s time to go," he told WXIN-TV. “Doctors tell me that’s one reason I’m still going. I got good lungs.”
The World War II veteran joined the agency in 1962 and still travels the state collecting technical field data and confirming boundary lines for DNR-managed properties. He was inspired to join DNR after spending time on naval ships during the war.
"One of the officers got on a bridge with a sextant, and a wristwatch," Vollmer said, adding that the officer was charting their position through the looking glass. "Of course, later on, I just realized that’s part of surveying.”
Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb recently presented Vollmer with the Sagamore of the Wabash, one of the state's highest honors, for his government service.
Vollmer enlisted in the Navy after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. After his service, he graduated in 1952 with a degree in biological and agricultural engineering from Purdue University.
He then worked for the Wabash Valley Association on reservoir and flood control projects before coming to work for the DNR. His time at the state agency has seen the evolution of the surveying trade from paper and pencil to handheld GPS devices.
Vollmer said he plans to spend his retirement reading and farming. He said he also plans to take trips to the South Pacific islands he was on during his wartime service.
His last day of work's date has special significance.
“That's the day the war was over, that’s the day I got married,” Vollmer said smiling.
The Associated Press contributed to this report