Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez spent the last 33 years working for the City of University Park. And while Ramirez isn’t the first in the family to work for UP, he also isn’t the last.
Ramirez’s grandfather, Julio, worked with the streets department for 29 years, and his father Fred retired after 23 years in the utilities department.
“The first time I worked here, it was in the 70s. I worked here with my grandpa one time, then I quit and left, but I came back in 1982,” Ramirez said.
While his father and grandfather worked in the public works department fixing the streets, Ramirez found his groove in sanitation as a driver. Ramirez who started off making $5.50 an hour as a rear-loader driver (trucks that pick up the large square dumpsters) at Snider Plaza, worked his way to the highest position in his department driving more sophisticated vehicles, he said.
Ramirez can recall when people would come to work in sanitation, say they were going to the store, and never return. “They couldn’t even last half a day, and I worked 33 years,” Ramirez said.
Sanitation may not sound like a fun job, but Ramirez, described as the jokester by his family, made it one. He can recall various times cracking jokes with coworkers and having pleasant interactions with UP residents. “I used to love my job,” Ramirez said. “Going to work, having fun with the guys. It’s been a good company to work for. The best job I had.”
For his daughter, Regina Huerta née Ramirez, who followed in her family’s footsteps and started working for the city in 1999, one of the best perks of the job was getting to see her father almost every day. Often, she would see him more at work than she would after hours.
Huerta, a senior utility billing clerk, has no immediate plans to stop working for University Park.
“The people that I work with and just being around the different atmosphere here,” Huerta said. “A lot of residents call and let us know all the good work we do.”
With four family members spanning four generations working for the city, Ramirez wouldn’t mind seeing one more added to the legacy. “I’d like to get one of my grandson’s working here,” he said.
At a city council meeting in February, Ramirez was recognized for his more than three decades of hard work after finalizing his retirement.
“[Ramirez] was a fantastic employee,” Director of Public Works Jacob Speer said. Speer, who worked with Ramirez for 16 years, described the sanitation worker as an upbeat worker with an infectious attitude.
“I was very happy for him to be able to retire and enjoy that time and spend time with his family, kids, hobbies, and past times,” Speer said. “But selfishly, from the city perspective, I was sad to see him go. He was a great friend to many of us here.”