WESTMINSTER -- Maxine Garvin Fritz retired from the Carroll County Health Department on Tuesday. But, her husband said, she will always be a nurse.
"She will never stop," said Willard T. "Bill" Fritz. "She loves caring for people too much."
Actually, Maxine Fritz said she doesn't really plan to forsake nursing -- only the daily 9-to-5 grind.
"I will probably volunteer at the hospital," she said.
On her last official day, about 100 friends, co-workers and family filled the Shriver-Weybright Auditorium to say goodbye.
"Maxine is out of uniform," one guest said with a laugh, as Fritz, in a floral suit, posed for pictures.
Guests exchanged hugs and handshakes with a woman who had been part of the department for 36 years -- longer than any other employee.
"Actually, it's 35 years and two months," she said. "I took 10 months off to get a master's at the University of Maryland."
For 25 of those years, as the department's director of nursing, she watched the staff grow from five to about 70 people and helped with the planning of Carroll County General Hospital and the Eldersburg Health Department.
In the crowd was her 90-year-old father, the Rev. Arthur W. Garvin Sr.
"Once she starts something, she stays with it," he said. "She was always dedicated and caring. From the time she was a little girl, I knew she would be a great nurse."
Fritz said nursing is rewarding for anyone who enjoys working with people.
"There are a lot of medical needs and a lot of work to be done in this world," she said.
After graduating from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in 1954, Fritz joined the hospital's surgical team as a "wherever-necessary" nurse. Two years of the long commute from her Taneytown home prompted a change to public health in Carroll County.
Public health nursing got her away from the hospital environment and closer to people in the community, she said.
"The last patient I specialized [cared for at the hospital] had undergone Hopkins' first open-heart surgery," she said. "She lived in Westminster and was one of my first patients here."
If she hadn't met and married her husband 30 years ago, she might have headed west and joined her aunt, a public health nurse, in Montana.
"I visited her when I was still in high school and just loved her job," she said. "She was the only health officer in her county."
Another trip to Montana is already on the Fritzes' retirement agenda.
"I have so many plans. Nobody could finish them in a lifetime," she said.
She does have firm plans for her first day away from the job. She will be sitting on the front porch of her Detour home at 7 a.m., watching and waving to everyone hurrying to work.