[Updated 11:01 a.m.] Ray Beck, Columbia’s city manager for 20 years, will retire at the end of the year, he said at a news conference Thursday morning.
"It has been a privilege to serve our city for 45 years," Beck said. "Working in local government allowed me the opportunity to help make a contribution to the total environment of our city."
Beck came to Columbia in 1960 as a staff engineer for the Public Works Department and became its director just a year later. He served in that capacity until 1985, when he was hired as city manager.
Beck thanked those he had worked with over the years, including the City Council, mayor and the numerous employees on the city staff.
"I am personally thankful for all the support I’ve received from so many people over the years, and the many things we accomplished working together."
Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman said that city government won’t be quite the same without Beck guiding the growth and services Columbia provides.
"He was a pillar of strength," Hindman said. "I feel very privileged to have been mayor for 10 years with Ray Beck as city manager."
The City Council will be charged with finding and hiring Beck’s replacement. Beck said he will not play a major role in that task.
Asked what his favorite memory is in a career that has spanned 40 years, Beck could not name one specifically.
"I don’t know if there is one particular one, I enjoyed coming to work everyday," he said. "I got to turn out the light a lot over the years."