A Career of Service: Captain Matt Walz reflects on 30-years serving the lake area
In the thirty years that have come and gone since he joined the Missouri Water Patrol, things have certainly changed on Lake of the Ozarks and for the first time in all those years, Matt Walz is not on the water patrolling or answering calls this weekend. Walz is enjoying his first Labor Day weekend as a civilian.
The now-former captain of the Missouri Water Patrol retired effective this week but for most of the 30 years he spent with the patrol he called Lake of the Ozarks home.
His ties to the lake actually began when he was a child. Growing up in Jefferson City, Walz's family were weekenders. It was on Lake of the Ozarks that Walz discovered his love of the water and recreational boating. Summers and weekends were spent on the northshore where his parents had a second home.
"I have many great memories of the lake growing up. I still get out boating and skiing whenever I get the chance. Boating has always been a big part of my life, so having the opportunity to serve in the Water Patrol has truly been a blessing,” he said. “Lake of the Ozarks in particular has played such a large role in my life. It’s one of a kind. My position with the Water Patrol has allowed me to see all of the lake in the tri-county area extensively and each area of the lake has its own character. I love it all. Both my job and the fact that I’m a local allows me to know the best parts of the lake to go at the best times."
Walz has become a familiar voice for boating safety. After spending years on the water, Walz had a unique perspective of what not to do on the water. He was and will always be an advocate for boater education and safety.
Walz began his career with the water patrol as a communications operator. After serving four years in the military and returning home, he saw an opening for a radio operator with the Water Patrol and applied for it.
"As a radio operator you have the opportunity to see what the Water Patrol really does, and I immediately knew I wanted to become an officer," he said. After graduating from the academy, Walz's first assignment was Lake of the Ozarks and with the exception of a few years on Table Rock and in St. Louis County.
Walz first assignment after graduating from the water patrol academy was Table Rock Lake, from there he came to Lake of the Ozarks. Three years later he was assigned to St. Louis County in 2000. In 2001, after being promoted he was sent back to the lake and has either been assigned to the water or working out of Jefferson City since then. Walz retired as the director of the Water patrol Division for the state.
Walz also served on the National Boating Safety Advisory Council, which advises the U.S. Coast Guard on recreational boating safety issues and he worked locally with the Lake of the Ozarks Water Safety Council promoting boating safety and responsibility.
The job afforded him the opportunity to do what he loved most, spend time on the water and promote boating safety while living at the lake. Although he hasn't decided what his plans are for the future, he plans to continue living at the lake, at least for the time being.
"I have a grown daughter who still lives in the lake area, and my son is a senior at Camdenton, so I will still have strong ties to the lake even after retirement," Walz said. "Plans after retirement include a vacation, and then projects around the house until something else comes along."
Walz said he is looking forward to retirement and being a "recreational boater". After spending so many years on the water doing enforcement, days spent just boating for pleasure will be welcome.
“I will miss working with the many dedicated marine troopers we have, and I’m thankful for those relationships I’ve had with so many officers over the years. Many of those officers are retired now, and I’m looking forward to joining them," Walz said. “I’ve also been fortunate to meet so many great advocates for boating safety across the state. I’m appreciative of those relationships as well.”