Residents driving past some of Turlock’s largest sycamore trees or the grassy shores of Donnelly Park may not know what these beloved landmarks looked like 50 years ago, but City of Turlock employee Hans Visser does.
The senior maintenance worker in the Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities department was recently honored by the City Council for five decades of service, working his way up the ranks and through different divisions over the years to become the perfect example of career longevity.
“I enjoy the work,” Visser told the Journal of his half-century of employment. “I'm an outdoor type of person anyway; it's easier for me to go out and do work outdoors. It's always pleasurable to see something that you've helped with, and then come back to it a few years later and you can see a tree growing or a part that needs replacing.”
The job provides work he can be proud of, Visser said, and his life is one he should be proud of, too.
The U.S. veteran was stationed in Okinawa as a young man after being drafted to serve in the Vietnam War, and he found employment with the City of Turlock through the Public Employment Program. The program helped war veterans obtain employment, and Visser began working in the Parks Division on Nov. 1, 1971. He helped maintain Donnelly Park and the newly-developed Tegner Park until 1978, he said, when he moved to Fleet Maintenance.
“I actually watched [Donnelly Park] develop from half of its current size to what it is now."Hans Visser
“I actually watched [Donnelly Park] develop from half of its current size to what it is now,” Visser said.
After taking care of the police fleet, Visser went on to work in the Water Division where he performed utility service calls, then eventually made his way back to Parks as part of the Street Division and helped with the leaf pickup program. He was also responsible for spraying alleyways and streets, and by the mid-1990s, spraying storm ponds was his primary job.
All other locations soon followed, and to this day Visser oversees the department’s pesticide program where he keeps employees informed of the latest laws and regulations. One of his fondest memories from his decades of service is taking part in the City’s tree planting program; he even knows where the biggest trees from that effort still stand today.
As Visser’s career flourished over the past 50 years, so did Turlock, he said.
“It’s probably doubled in size from when I first started,” Visser said.
In a proclamation celebrating Visser’s 50 years read at the most-recent City Council meeting on Oct. 26, the longtime employee was described by Mayor Amy Bublak as a “treasured resource to the organization” thanks to his friendly demeanor and can-do attitude.
Former Parks department director Abe Rojas, who first hired Visser 50 years ago, said he remembers the day the young man first walked into his office.
“He had good references and was an outstanding worker. He still continues to be an outstanding worker; he’s very loyal to the City and very loyal to all those around him,” Rojas said.
For Visser, it’s all just part of the job — though his shiny new key to the City is sure to be a treasure.
“I guess I turned out to be a halfway decent worker,” he laughed.