If you’ve ever been to Lake Julian, chances are you know Park Ranger Jeff Ellis, commonly known as Bubba. The only thing larger than his influence on the park will be the vacancy his retirement creates. After 20 years, Bubba says he’s collected quite a few favorite memories such as kids’ fishing tournaments, boat rides for handicapped and autistic kids, the annual Festival of Lights show, Fourth of July fireworks, and making cotton candy and popcorn at the Fall Festival.
Bubba notes his career at Buncombe County wouldn’t have been the same without former supervisor David Blynt. “He was not only a good boss, he was a great friend if you needed some advice… he was the go-to person,” says Bubba, who has left his own impression on the next generation of Recreation Services employees.
“I am grateful for the chance to have had Bubba as a role model,” exclaims Recreation Services Director Josh O’Conner. “He has truly demonstrated the essence of public leadership. His impact will be felt within the department for years to come through his vision and positive, people-first attitude.”
Recreation Services’ Lynn Pegg adds that the department just won’t be the same without Bubba. “He has been a larger than life addition to Recreation Services over the years. He has a heart of gold and worked diligently over the years to make Lake Julian Park a desirable park destination,” she says.
As for Bubba, he says retirement will finally give him a chance to sleep in a bit, noting “Not getting up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready for work” is one of the things he’s most looking forward to. As for other plans, he says, “I am good to take a month or two to spend with my family, then start fall fishing, and go right into hunting season.”
Happy hunting Bubba, you’ve earned it. His last day is officially Friday, July 31, and will be working at Lake Julian on July 28, 29, and 31 if anyone would like to stop by the park and wish him well.