ROCK SPRINGS — The Wyoming Department of Transportation’s longest running employee, David Fedrizzi, is bringing to a close a very long and successful career of 61 years.
“Employees like David show the caliber of workers we have at the Wyoming Department of Transportation,” said WYDOT Director K. Luke Reiner. “We have dedicated employees committed to ensuring the department is the best it can be. I want to thank David for his years of service and dedication. He will truly be missed.”
Growing up in Rock Springs, Fedrizzi always had a penchant for hard work and dedicated himself to his studies. He was eventually rewarded for that work when he was honored as the valedictorian for the class of 1954 at Rock Springs High School.
He went on to the University of Wyoming, earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering. During the summer prior to his senior year of college, Fedrizzi unknowing began a career at the Wyoming Highway Department that would span six decades. He began his career as a summer hire levelman on the Rock Springs Survey crew.
Post College Years
Following graduation from the University of Wyoming, he joined the United States Army and served three years, providing training and supporting border patrol units in Texas. After his service, he returned to Wyoming and once again, began working for the Wyoming Highway Department, this time as a highway engineer in Rock Springs.
Fedrizzi had made such an impression on the survey crew earlier that WYDOT supervisors set out to recruit him upon his return from military service.
“Bill Mitchelson actually came over to my house and asked me to work for the department again. Of course, I said yes,” Fedrizzi recalled.
Fedrizzi took a position as a highway engineer in Rock Springs and also taught introductory engineering courses at Western Wyoming Community College from 1961-1965.
“At the time, I think the college was trying to establish an engineering department. The president of the college at the time had taken a job at New Mexico State and had wanted me to come on as a full time faculty member there. I didn’t want to move there. I liked Wyoming and the Highway Department too much to make a move like that,” Fedrizzi said.
Fedrizzi did, however, make the move to Cheyenne in 1966 to join the bridge department.
“Charlie Wilson had always wanted me to come work in Cheyenne. The bridge department was always looking for top students and he wanted me to work there based on my academic record,” Fedrizzi said.
Top field supervisors at the Highway Department were always trying to draw Fedrizzi back to the field and he took a job in Sundance in 1968. However, shortly after taking the job in Sundance, Fedrizzi received word that his father had passed away very suddenly and felt the call to return to home to be with his family.
He immediately returned to Rock Springs to be with his mother. It wasn’t long before he was again recruited to work for the department.
In the 1980s, Fedrizzi began to work less in the field and more in the office in order to be available to take care of his ailing mother. One of Fedrizzi’s responsibilities was checking final projects.
Bob Maxim, WYDOT engineer out of Pinedale, recalls Fedrizzi’s impact on him during that time:
“When I started with the Wyoming Highway Department back then in 1984, I was tasked with helping Fedrizzi when he was the finals engineer during the winter,” said Maxim. “Wow, what an eye opener for a new engineer fresh out of college. Fedrizzi was and still is an extremely kind man who was always extremely organized and his attention to detail was unmatched.”
“He was instrumental in my training as a WYDOT engineer when I worked for him in finals. The valuable experience that I learned from him has stuck with me through all of my years. David was very thorough in his work and who could ever forget his ‘green’ pencils!” Maxim recalled.
A True Family Culture
Fedrizzi continued to work at the Rock Springs office, holding various positions. He became an integral part of the District office and an important part of the family culture of WYDOT.
“He always remembers everyone’s name. And if he has met your spouse or children, he makes it a point to remember their name as well. It makes you feel like you matter. You are not just a coworker, you are a friend,” district construction technician Becky Hager said.
Fedrizzi has also become the unofficial historian for highway work in District 3, managing the micro fiche library of as-constructed plans and taking calls and requests about past work in the area. Looking back, Fedrizzi recalled one of the most impactful jobs in his career—the construction of US 191 from the interstate to the Utah line from 1961 to 1964.
“I worked on the East Side Road (191 South) and I campaigned hard for a lake side road,” he said. “At the time, there was no road out there and no continuous route from Canada to Mexico. There was a missing link in that route from western Wyoming to the corner of Utah.”
“That is why they decided to build it where it is today. It was a high-pressure job that needed to be built quickly – 56 miles of road in less than four years. We had to meet the time schedule and it would have taken too long to build a lakeside road,” Fedrizzi added.
The Time Feels Right
Fedrizzi has been eligible for retirement since the early 2000s, but continued to work, commenting that he just couldn’t see himself as a retired person, that it didn’t quite feel right. Now, Fedrizzi said, things have changed.
“It just feels right now. And I better do it while it still feels good,” Fedrizzi said.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation has been lucky to have benefited from such institutional knowledge, as well as his kindness and support to his coworkers and friends.
“David’s experience in, and knowledge of, the department will very much be missed. He has always approached his work in a positive, professional manner. We all wish him the best as he moves into the next phase of life,” Compton said.