Mayor Adams declares July 12 as ‘Mark Gaulke Day’ to honor veteran city employee
By LACI GAGLIANO
Crystal’s Street Superintendent Mark Gaulke knows the city he serves like the back of his hand.
His father, Frank, farmed the family’s land in the community and was one of the founding members of the Crystal Fire Department, which later became the West Metro Fire Department, for which his son would eventually serve.
His mother, Florence, was a 4-H club leader in Crystal for more than half a century. With his roots firmly planted in Crystal, it’s no surprise he spent 38 years of his life giving back to the city, although come July 31, he’ll retire.
“It’s the end of an era,” Gaulke said, adding that he just finished selling the family property, which also marks the final uprooting of his family lineage in Crystal.
Gaulke spent the greater portion of his tenure working as a heavy equipment operator, a role he occupied for 27 years. Throughout the time he was working in that position, he was simultaneously deployed with the National Guard on active duty in places like Kosovo. Once he returned from his final deployment in 2003, he realized he no longer wanted to work as a heavy equipment operator. At the time, New Hope had a position open as a utility maintenance supervisor, and Gaulke spent two years in that role before returning to Crystal as the street superintendent.
Even when he spent a couple years working for the neighboring town, Gaulke was working to unify the work of city improvement among the quad communities of Crystal, New Hope, Robbinsdale and Golden Valley, with each city working closely with the other cities.
“It’s been a big boost with all of our little cities working together to help,” he said.
One of the marks Gaulke will leave behind is recycling certain materials used or collected by the city, which are composted into black dirt used throughout the city for other projects.
Gaulke retired from the Army as a first sergeant, and credits his personal accomplishments to his time in the military.
“My leadership skills were pretty much learned through the Army,” he explained.
After his retirement, Gaulke said he plans to live part-time in Jackson, Mississippi, where his daughter lives and her boyfriend is stationed.
“I’ve got an RV and I’ll bring one of my Harleys with me, and stay there through the winter,” he said.
As for the other part of the year, he’ll return to his current residence in Big Lake, where he has a tree nursery. He grows a multitude of trees.
In the meantime, Gaulke will finish his duties as street superintendent.
“It was a real pleasure working for the citizens of Crystal,” he said. “One of our biggest jobs is keeping citizens happy, but you have to maintain the policies of the city … I made it a point to go out there and explain to them what we did and why.”
City officials were generous with his deployments to other countries while he was serving with the National Guard. He said that through each deployment, the city was accommodating, and there was always still a job for him when he returned.
At the June 20 city council meeting, Mayor Jim Adams honored Gaulke for his service, and declared July 12 Mark Gaulke Day to commemorate his service.