Oxford Building, Planning, and Zoning director Mike Roberts will retire Friday, June 28, after a quarter century of service to the city.

His friends and colleagues, in a heartwarming gesture, surprised Roberts on Wednesday, June 26, with a retirement party at the Public Works building – a celebration filled with cake, snacks, hugs, and handshakes.

“I don’t know what to say,” a visibly moved Roberts said after he entered the room.

Roberts said he “could not have had a better job”.

“I’ve had the best career and have enjoyed working with everybody in the city,” he said. “The mayor and the city council supported my department throughout my career. We made decisions where we were guided a little or allowed to do what we needed to do.”

Roberts recalled with a laugh earlier days when the late mayor Leon Smith got him a truck “with no shocks and just springs” and how the department was in a small room at the old city hall, which is now OPAC.

That recollection brought into focus the significant amount of growth the department has experienced under Roberts’ leadership as it has overseen the city’s growth in the areas of residential, commercial and industrial during the last 25 years.

“During Mike’s tenure, he has helped ensure the growth of the city of Oxford has been done in a safe and measured way,” said Mayor Alton Craft. “Dealing with the needs of builders and ensuring the zoning codes as set by the city are met can be a difficult position, but Mike has performed this duty responsibly and always in a way that ensured Oxford remains a great place to live and work. I and the city council offer our gratitude to Mike for a job well done.”

“I’m going to be lost because this is all I’ve ever done – come here every day and do this,” Roberts said. “And I’ve enjoyed it. Thank you for allowing me to do my job.”