Salt Flat, Texas – After more than 30 years of service, the Chief of Facility Maintenance for Guadalupe Mountains National Park is retiring. He’s hanging up his flat hat at the park and trading it for a cowboy hat that he will now wear full time! Val Cal is retiring on February 26, 2021 after over 30 years of service as a National Park Ranger. He has spent all the years of his career in the National Park Service at one park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park. A park he claims is the ideal place for him.
Within the park, Val has worn many different hats. Starting as a custodial worker, he worked his way up to maintenance mechanic and then went on to supervisory roles. Finally, achieving the Chief of Facility Maintenance position. He has also worked in the park as a wildland firefighter, an emergency medical technician, participated in the Structural Fire Brigade and has even detailed as the park Superintendent.
Val Call grew up in Dell City, Texas and has lived in this area of West Texas, near the Guadalupe Mountains all his life. “There’s lots that’s gone on in 30 years,” he recounted about his job with the National Park Service. When asked about his greatest accomplishments, Val reminisced fondly on how he aided in building the park from the ground up: from creating parking lots at the western sand dunes, to picnic shelters at Frijole Ranch. Val is amazed at the development of the park over the three decades he has worked here. He assisted the building of many structures and facilities at the park, like the metal pergola shade structure outside the Visitor Center. “The old wooden panels used to fall on visitors,” he remembered with a chuckle, “but no one was hurt. Sure scared a few!” he reminisced. No matter where you go in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, there will always be a trace of Val. His legacy is in the quality work and care he has put into the facilities and structures he helped construct.
What will he miss the most? “The people and staff comradery. This park has had a lot of good folks work here over the years. The divisions have always worked well together.” When asked what he’s most proud of, Val says, “I’m mighty proud of the partnerships I’ve maintained over the years with the Sierra Club and the Texas Trail Tamers, to name a few. We’ve accomplished a lot together over the years and built this park to what it is today!”
Some of his best memories of the park include roaming the trails during the park’s busy autumn season. In the early years, he enjoyed doing interpretation at Pratt Cabin and the Grotto, amidst the brilliant fall colors that the park is known for.
As for his retirement plans, Val has a lot of projects planned with his wife, Tina. Some small projects include building a new garage, a garden, and a new bathroom on his little patch of heaven in West Texas. Once COVID is over, he and his wife plan to travel a bit and do some camping and fishing in beautiful areas like Montana and Idaho. “I always loved my job here. I’m not leaving because I’m unhappy. With everything that’s happened in 2020, I just realized it’s time to start a new chapter in my life.”