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Longtime Denton Sheriff's Volunteer Goes Out on His Own Terms – Again

It's one thing to work a job, have a long career and then retire when you are good and ready. A Denton man has the rare distinction to say he's had that honor, twice.

In more than 27 years in law enforcement, Lloyd Fitzpatrick saw a lot — patrols, warrants, investigations into human trafficking, and even murder. Fitzpatrick recently retired from his job as commander of the Operations Support Unit, a branch of the Denton County Sheriff's Office consisting of citizen volunteers.

The 80-year-old says it was time.

"Sometimes, if you have an old automobile, and you're driving that old junker and you know it's time to get a new one? Well, I woke up one morning and knew it was time to trade me in," he said.

Retirement means he will have more time to spend with wife, Elizabeth, and to reflect on the good fortune of being able to retire, again.

"Being able to leave on your own terms is a delightful experience," Fitzpatrick said.

For 44 years, Fitzpatrick was a biology professor at the University of North Texas. In 2014 he retired from teaching and research, which took him to places near and far — from Lake Ray Roberts, where in the early 1970s he conducted groundbreaking environmental impact studies, to Chile, where he researched the nesting sites of seagulls.

Fitzpatrick was even featured on NBC's Today Show, when reporter Bob Dotson followed him for two days, catching a species of lizard using blow guns with pimento-stuffed olives. There's a chapter about that in Dotson's book, "In Pursuit of the American Dream."

"We have one chapter in it, called 'It's the Pits'," Fitzpatrick said.

At age 80, Fitzpatrick still works out, including regular walks. In retirement, he says he may take up yoga. He and Elizabeth also have a rather large landscaped yard to tend to. At his age he says golf, which he says used to be "his mistress," and martial arts are now out of the picture.

Fitzpatrick says he truly loved teaching and research, and the lasting friendships he made. Still, he says it can't compare to the brotherhood of law enforcement.

"There's a difference between colleagues at a university," he said. "If you go through a door with a guy, you gotta have a lot of trust."

That, he says, is the hardest part of retirement, for a man lucky enough to go out on his own terms for a second time.

"That's what I'm gonna miss," Fitzpatrick said. "The teamwork, the partnerships, the people."

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