Ferrell Croft has his retirement mapped out

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By Carolyn Risner

Hunched over his drafting table, Ferrell Croft painstakingly draws first one line and then another. Within minutes the lines connect, a shape develops and soon another parcel of Levy County land is mapped for posterity-or at least until it is subdivided again and the process starts over.

Monday, Croft packed up his drafting tools and walked away from a job he's had for over 30 years as the county mapper.

His career began by drafting survey maps and for years he worked for himself and the private sector.

But 30 years ago the company he was working for sold out and he got wind of a job with Levy County.

Working under then property appraiser Dwight Bell, a new career was born and it proved to be the final move in his career.

"I enjoy drawing maps," the Suwannee County native said, adding he did not find the solitary work either tedious or repetitious.

Self-taught, Croft said the skill he brought to the table was his love of geography and watching all the pieces of the puzzle come together.

Today with computers replacing the human touch, Croft knows that his abilities, his skills are quickly becoming passe.

"What I do," the soft-spoken Croft said, "is a lost art. No one does it this way anymore."

With that thought lingering in his mind, he said now seemed the best time to move on into the last facet of his career-retirement. But, he added, he will be available for part-time work if the appraiser needs him.

It's most assured he will be because Croft admitted he carries a lot of knowledge in his head-things that have never been written down.

And 30 years of experience dealing with the ever-changing face of Levy County is not something that can be diminished.

Instead of becoming befuddled with the intricacies and complexities of map drawing, Croft instead finds relaxation and satisfaction in the solitary work.

"I'm eat up with patience," he grinned. "If it's not right, I tear it up and start again."

That's not the approach to all things in his life though, he said. Some things you have to try and repair.

Now that retirement has come, Croft has no real plans on how he will spend the leisurely days ahead.

He enjoys gardening, he said, and manages every year to produce enough to supply family and friends.

And of course, there's always enough for the coons and other critters that Croft says always get their part.

"Fishing, hunting, golf-I'm not into it," he said. "I have 10 acres to cut.

"Sometimes I get in my rocking chair and do nothing. Maybe I'll watch the corn grow. That takes a lot of patience too."

Croft knew exactly though what he would do on his first day of retirement.

"Maybe I'll sleep late-'til about 6:30."