Although I have been semi-retired for a number of years, I look back at my career in Civil and Traffic Engineering and think about how much my education at Saints prepared me for my professional and personal life. Saints was a much smaller school in the 1940s – around 100 or so students but it provided a background in science that enabled me to obtain my engineering degree at U.C. Berkeley. In those days it was not possible to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in San Diego or Los Angeles – seems strange now, considering the population of Southern California today and the opportunities available to continue a scientific education without leaving the area.
After graduation I took a position with the Alaska Road Commission. At the time there was a big push to reconstruct the roads and bridges in Alaska so they hired as many Civil Engineers as they could from colleges all over the United States. There was no interview procedure; just sign a one-year contract and you were on your way north. They even hired the one female civil engineer in our graduating class at Berkeley and then weren’t sure what to have her do when she got there. She ended up in the design office since all the men were sent out into the field. I’m sure they wouldn’t make that mistake today with all of the women engineers that are graduating.
I spent four and a half years in Alaska in both the bridge design office in Juneau and supervising bridge construction in the field. After leaving Alaska I spent seven years as a Bridge Engineer in San Francisco working for a private engineering firm. After that fifteen years were spent as Director of Public Works in the Town of San Anselmo followed by another seven years as Director of Public Works in Calaveras County, California. For the next twenty seven years I have been a self-employed traffic engineering consultant.
I don’t think that I ever would have gone into the engineering field without the encouragement of Father Ryan and the other priests at St. Augustine. At that time all of the academic and religious instruction was provided by the priests; there were no lay teachers. The rest of my life will be spent in retirement in Mokelumne Hill, California where my wife and I have resided since 1980 and where we are active in several community service organizations. Perhaps someone down there will plan a 70th class reunion for the class of ’45 and I’ll be able to attend.
Charles R. “Bob” Leitzell
Class of: 1945