In 1967, Owen Holyoak watched the J. Wayne Reitz Union being built.
Nearly 50 years later, he stood on the University of Florida campus Thursday and watched parts of it being torn down.
UF began the $25 million renovation project in June, and it is still in progress.
Holyoak worked for nearly 30 years as a UF sports science professor and believes the union is due for an update.
“The Reitz Union is worn out related to the personality of the university and student needs,” he said.
Holyoak remembers the Reitz in its simpler days, when it was a cafeteria. He said the bookstore addition created foot traffic in the union and was “one of the best moves ever made for the students.”
Holyoak said he enjoyed his job at UF so much he got into the habit of coming back regularly to visit friends, reading the paper and having a coffee. He enjoys the “young and vibrant” energy of being surrounded by students.
“(The students) are the future, and it creates a whole different mentality and the way you look at life,” he said. “If you’re around old people, you think old. If you’re around young people, you think young.”