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June 29, 2017

Salt Lake County’s Longest Serving Employee Retires After 53 Years of Service

Pam Davenport - Email

Nicholas Rupp - Email

(SALT LAKE COUNTY)—The Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) today celebrated the retirement of Licensed Environmental Health Scientist Lowell Bodily after 53 years of service to Salt Lake County. Family, friends, past and present coworkers, and representatives from partner agencies came to help celebrate the achievement and wish Bodily well in his retirement.

“Lowell began working at the Salt Lake County Health Department on January 16, 1964,” said SLCoHD Executive Director Gary Edwards. “Through a merger, three name changes, and seven health officers, he has remained dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of county residents.”

Bodily was originally hired as one of a dozen employees known as “sanitarians,” and each performed a wide variety of duties such as dairy, restaurant and grocery store inspections.

“Back then, gas was 16 cents a gallon and cigarettes had just increased to 25 cents a pack,” said Bodily. “I remember a young store clerk telling me she wouldn’t be surprised if cigarettes became $5 a pack one day, but I just thought she was crazy.”  

When Lowell began work at the health department in January 1964, the landmark “Smoking and Health” report from the U.S. Surgeon General had just been released and environmental health was in its infancy. In Salt Lake County, health department officials noted that influenza was possibly going to be a mild season, but that “intestinal flu” was reaching outbreak levels. It would be five more years before the Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County health departments would merge to become one public health agency.

Fifty-three years later, Bodily says he has “done just about every job in the health department” because in the early days there were only 10 or 12 total employees, although the majority of his time has been spent in the department’s Environmental Health Division. He is currently an employee in the Sanitation and Safety Bureau where he performs inspections of businesses like tanning salons and body art facilities. For the past 15 years, Lowell has supervised the health department’s community cleanup program that works to remove solid waste and illegal encampments from public lands in the county.

Over the years Lowell has gained the respect and trust of nearly every partner agency that works with SLCoHD, evidenced by the enormous chain of keys that give him access to what he says is “every road, ditch, or canal in the valley.”

While Bodily was the longest serving county employee, the health department prides itself on its high number of employees dedicated to long-term public service. Sixty-three of the 331 (19%) current full-time health department employees have 20 years of service or more. However, the next employee on the seniority list is 10 years behind Bodily, with a mere 43 years of service.