NASHVILLE, Ind. — On a rainy morning with wind whipping across the path of the grassy dam at Ogle Lake in Brown County State Park, 100-year-old Bob Vollmer had an audience of mostly Indiana Department of Natural Resources employees huddling under two canopies, all there to honor a man who has been working for 55 years as a surveyor for the agency’s Division of Engineering.

Vollmer was there for the unveiling of an interpretive sign titled “Bob Vollmer: Following the footsteps,” along the path that loops around Ogle Lake, which is near Brown County State Park’s 10 O’Clock Line Nature Preserve, where Vollmer has done extensive surveying work. The interpretive sign states that the “work of a DNR land surveyor is connected to the work of the first surveyors who walked the property in the 1800s, but uses today’s technology.”

A quote from Vollmer on the sign adds to that: “I think the first thing you should understand is how this country was formed. Everybody went West, and the first people out there were the surveyors.”

For most of the DNR workers, it was Vollmer who gave them their first experience in surveying. John Bacon, director of the agency’s Division of Nature Preserves, recalled a work assignment 40 years ago when Vollmer and he were surveying Moraine Nature Preserve in Porter County. “I was holding the staff, and he was surveying,” Bacon said. “He was saying, ‘Move it a little to the right.’ And he’s still doing the work.”

In fact, Vollmer, who lives near Needmore in Brown County, had to be reminded of the dedication ceremony — he had planned on traveling to the Hovey Lake area in southwestern Indiana instead.

“He’s 100 years old, and he can still outrun most of us,” said Vincent J. Barr, a member of the Indiana Society of Professional Land Surveyors, during Tuesday’s ceremony. Barr recalled that Vollmer, who is known for his stories, told how he dug up an original surveying post set in the early 1800s after researching the documents of those first surveyors.

Dale Gick, director of the state Department of Natural Resources Division of Engineering, talked about how Vollmer recently drove about 1,400 miles one month and 1,200 miles another month while doing his surveying work, which is mostly in the central and southern parts of Indiana.

“Sometimes he’s by himself; sometimes someone’s with him,” Gick said of Vollmer, the state’s oldest employee.

Recently, it was Gick who was with Vollmer, a Navy veteran, when he participated in an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. For the sign unveiling on Tuesday, Vollmer was wearing a Navy blue jacket that proclaimed in gold lettering that he was a World War II veteran. In fact, Vollmer will be participating in the Veterans Day Parade in Indianapolis this coming weekend.

“He’s an once-in-a-lifetime person,” Gick said.

As the ceremony came to an end, with “America the Beautiful” played by trumpeter Randall Travis, Vollmer looked across Ogle Lake with the rain and windy conditions, and noted that it was typical November weather in Indiana. “It’s when the fish are biting,” he said.


Source: The (Bloomington) Herald Times, http://bit.ly/2zoq3ea


Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by The (Bloomington) Herald Times.

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CAROL KUGLER
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