ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - As we get ready to ring in the New Year, one Roanoke notable will be clocking out for the last time.
Bev Fitzpatrick has been the Executive Director at the Virginia Museum of Transportation for the last 11 years. But he'll be retiring at the end of the month. He says, it's time to relax and spend more time with family.
But that doesn't mean all of the work and love he put into this museum is going with him
Even with a museum full of interesting things to look at Fitzpatrick's favorite thing to see isn't in the collection.
"The most enjoyable thing that I can have is walking out onto that floor and seeing kids smiling and jumping on a train cab," he said. "Because if you're excited and having fun, you learn."
Starting as a museum board member at just 15 years old, becoming executive director years later continued a lifelong passion.
"You don't often at 60 get an opportunity to have a job that you have a passion about and to me," Fitzpatrick said, "this whole experience has been about passion."
The outgoing executive director will leave his post after 11 years at the end of the month.
But he's done a lot since his first day.
Among his biggest accomplishments are the restoration of the 611 locomotive, bringing in thousands more visitors and broadening its base, by adding exhibits featuring more cars and plans.
He's proud of those things - giving most of the credit to his staff.
He said he hopes more people coming here learn the significance of Roanoke's history.
"They changed the map of American railroading," he said referring to the men and women in the early railroad days, "and it started here in Roanoke, Virginia."
Even in retirement, Fitzpatrick said transportation will remain a passion.
In between time with grand kids, you'll find him in his basement, fixing up his model train.
"This has been like a gift in a way to me to have the chance to work in a place that I love"
The museum is hosting The Fitzpatrick Gala next month with at the Hotel Roanoke. It's going to be a way for people to say thank you to Fitzpatrick and highlight his work over the years. Ticket sales from the event will help pay for the future of the museum, and sustain some of Fitzpatrick's favorite projects.