I think that most of us have a time in our life where someone at work has such a significant impact that it is hard to think of them not being around. For me, it’s pretty easy to say that Bob Walker was that person for me. He was a colleague, a mentor, but most of all a good friend. I can still recall many of the conversations we’ve had over the years…sitting his in cubicle office, walking around campus, and even out in the parking lots after my shift was over. I sigh (yes, the “Media Sigh”), shake my head, and laugh when I think back to all the crazy, frustrating, stressful situations way back in the day when our students were more of a handful and we were delivering equipment across campus. But thinking about all that makes me appreciate the fact that Bob and I were able to support each other so well through those trying times. It will be tough in the days to come not having Bob at my side. On the other hand, it is also an opportunity for me to shine…to grow! I guess you could say that I felt like I was in his shadow sometimes…simply because his experience, personality, wit, and wisdom were persuasive that he naturally drew people to him. But now, I feel like a torch has been passed to me…and to carry on some of the work habits, management styles, and humor that Bob shared with us over the years.
So now, after 17 years of service at UIS (University of Illinois Springfield), he has happily retired from his days at Media. I’m sure that many people have told him that he couldn’t be leaving at a much better time than now. Just for example:
• The National Economy in turmoil and the state budget in the crapper with no plan in sight.
• U of I budget in termoil, forcing retirements, early buyouts, and furloughs..not to mention major increases in tuition.
• Several department positions open..with no certainty as to whether they will be refilled.
• Consolidation of work duties (i.e. doing more with less) and no real reward, just blind promises.
• No real opportunities for advancement.
One would have almost thought that he had the whole thing planned…but realistically, it was all a matter of good timing on his part. I know that as happy as he is to be leaving the department during such tough times, I know that there is a part of Bob that feels like he is leaving us in a lurch…by no fault of his own. Nevertheless, the show must go on… and all I can say is that whoever will be filling his position has some mighty big shoes to fill.