"He's worked on many projects throughout his career," Regulatory Retiree Randy Clark recalled. "His analytical insight to many Regulatory projects has been incredible and made projects better. He looked at projects from a close perspective and at the 10,000-mile-high view. He always knew when each approach was necessary and best."
Clark is describing newly retired Regulatory Technical Expert Tim Flinn. Flinn served a total of 32 years of federal service before deciding he was ready to retire.
"I plan on doing absolutely nothing and everything if time permits," he said.
By the sound of his young adult life and up to his last year working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, we'd say he can do whatever he wants during retirement.
"I grew up working in my dad's restaurant from when I was 13 years old all the way up until I started working at the Corps," he said. "I had to work even if I didn't feel like it because I had no one that could work for me."
Flinn grew up in Senatobia, Mississippi, where he went to a small school called Magnolia Heights.
"After that, I spent two years at Northwest Community College," he said. "Then I transferred to Mississippi State in 1987 and majored in Civil Engineering."
Staying at Mississippi State, Flinn went on to earn a master's degree in Civil Engineering in 1989 with an emphasis in Environmental Engineering. Once he graduated, he wasted no time snagging a job with the Corps as an environmental engineer in February of 1989.
When Flinn signed up to work 32 years ago, he said he did it, "To get his foot in the door."
Little did he know, he was about to embark on a life-changing journey full of memorable projects, challenging legal battles, and close friendships.
"I worked on the access roads for the casinos in Tunica and DeSoto Counties," Flinn said. "I've been involved in countless projects over the years with Regulatory Branch, and I worked for a few years in Project Management Branch and was the assistant on the Grand Prairie Areas Demonstration Project and the White River Comprehensive Project. We withstood a legal challenge to the Grand Prairie Project, and the administrative record had over 100 notebooks stretching from the door from Office of Counsel to the other end of the hall."
Much of Flinn's time in the Regulatory Branch involved getting out of the office and up close and personal with nature, which he said was both his favorite and not so favorite part of the job.
"It's always good to get away from the office, especially nowadays with all of the mask requirements and all," he said. "Getting fresh air and seeing the sights of the district is a good part of the job. Of course, running into the chiggers, poison ivy, and various types of snakes that want to bite ya, stab ya, or stick ya is always fun."
Sure, he won't grieve the absence of insects, but there are some things he'll admittedly miss.
"The folks I work with," he said. "A few are really good, close friends, and I will miss interacting with them on a daily basis."
And after 32 years of service, 29 of them here in Memphis, he'll certainly be missed as well.
"When I started consulting work in 1996, Tim was the first person from the Corps I met," Supervisory Biologist Roger Allan said. "I enjoyed working with him and learned a fair amount about the regulatory program from our discussions. That continued after I started working here. Tim's experience working on complex and controversial projects, knowledge of our regulations, and eye for detail have made him an ideal person to bounce ideas off of and gain different perspectives over the years. I will miss our wide-ranging conversations and wish him and his family well in retirement."
"The time we inspected the Fort Pillow Wetland mitigation project was a testimony of him getting down and dirty," fellow Retiree Randy Clark reminisced. "That was a good and memorable day. Tim will be missed in the Regulatory Division. Decades of Regulatory knowledge, expertise and knowing when not to sweat the small stuff will be missed. Enjoy your retirement and have some fun."
Flinn contributed a lot to the Corps, and the Corps reciprocated; for that, he is thankful.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to work for the Corps," he said. "I met and married my wife, Cheryl, who worked here at the time in Human Resources. We started our family while I was working here. In so many ways, I owe many of the positive things in my life to the opportunity of working for the Corps. I'm looking forward to beginning the next chapter of our life."
And because hindsight is always 20/20, we asked him what he would say to someone already in or looking to join his career field.
"Be thinking ahead two or three steps while building your career," Flinn said. "Don't get into the habit of keeping your head down and just working. Lift your head and prepare yourself for the future. No one else will if you don't. And enjoy the ride. It'll be over within the blink of an eye."
Congratulations, Tim, and thank you for your many years of service to this district, division, and nation. You will be missed!