I’m a Berkeleyan: Truck driver Jim Hanspard on his 35 years on campus

Jim Hanspard, a truck driver at UC Berkeley, has worked on campus for 35 years and is set to retire in June. (UC Berkeley photo by Irene Yi)

"I started working at UC Berkeley when I was 25. I wanted to be a fireman. As a kid, I used to watch these firemen in their big old trucks and say, ’Mom, this is what I want to do.’ I just loved that. Helping people. Saving people.

But I just liked it at Berkeley. I met some nice people and the benefits and everything were right for me to be here. I thought, ’This is a place I can make a career.’ I put my son through college working here. I’ve been here 35 years. I’m retiring at the end of this month.

I’m a truck driver for Property Management’s Central Distribution. I pick up e-waste - computers, printers, other equipment - from different departments and offices across campus. I deliver furniture and big packages for the university. We have two truck drivers and we service the whole campus.

My brother is my mentor. He’s 20 years older than me. My father passed away when I was 6. My mother did a good job of raising me, and my brother did, too. I always looked up to him as a fatherly figure. He’s always been there for me. I’ve learned a lot from him. I know we’re grown, but I still listen to this man. Is that weird? I give him that respect.

You look at him and he’ll let you know that he don’t play that. He just has the look. But he’s a big teddy bear. Growing up, all my friends and I, we used to be scared of him. To this day, they still say they’re scared of him. He’s an 80-year-old man. I don’t understand that logic.

"We have two truck drivers and we service the whole campus,” says Hanspard. (UC Berkeley photo by Irene Yi)

At Berkeley, I used to be a UC mover. I was the best mover on campus. People always requested me. I had all the work. People were friendly. They’d say, "Oh, there’s Jim." I’ll never forget those days - especially moving. You just meet a lot of people.

I’ve had a lot of memorable moments on campus. One day, I was sitting in Sproul Hall - I used to call it my office - and I was listening to the radio and drinking coffee before I started my day. Then, 9/11 happened. And it blew my mind. It blew me away. I just sat in my truck, like, ’Wow, I can’t believe this is happening.’ It was so tragic to me. A tear rolled down my cheek.

Another time that stands out was the inauguration of President Obama. It was projected on big screens on Sproul Plaza. I had never seen anything like that. To see a black man in the White House - I’m glad my mom got a chance to see that before she passed away. That was really special to her, too.

I’m going to miss working here. Thirty-five years’ That’s a long time to spend your career at one place. It’s been a long run. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”

"I’ve had a lot of memorable moments on campus,” says Hanspard. "I’m going to miss working here. It’s been a long run. I’m just glad to be a part of it.” (UC Berkeley photo by Irene Yi)

This profile is part of a series highlighting staff who have worked at UC Berkeley for 30 years or more, as a way to celebrate their contributions to the campus. It’s produced by Anne Brice and Gia White, an administrative director for the Institute of European Studies, who has worked at Berkeley for 30 years.

Related story: "In campus records 49 years and still loving it”

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