Goodbye, health department: Kyzar’s gone fishing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 1, 2013



After 36 years with the Alabama Department of Public Health, Terry Kyzar has hung a shingle on his door that says “gone fishing.”

And while it’s a little cool yet for what he has planned, that’s exactly where he intends to spend his retirement. Fishing. Primarily for tuna.

When the health department started looking for budget cuts, Kyzar decided he’d move on to help save the jobs of you-nger people. He cashed in his leave time, bought a 26-foot Twin B, and plans to run charters in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I’ve got some things to get ready first,” he said, adding that includes permits and insurance. By spring, he plans to be chartering trips 50 to 70 miles into the Gulf. He can do trips for four to six people.

Kyzar said he hoped when he joined the health department in Shelby County in 1976, that he hoped he could make a career there. A year later, he had an opportunity to move home to Covington County, and he’s been an environmentalist here ever since.

“My father had a feed mill in town, and I started working there when I was 14,” he said. “Then, I did three years in the Army. “I said to myself, ‘There’s gotta be something better.’”

He earned a degree in biology, and started taking the state hiring test. It took a year-and-a-half, because it was a time when the courts kept throwing out the test on claims it was racially biased. He passed three versions, and was eventually hired.

Through the years, the role of the environmentalist has changed, he said. At the end of his career, he had seven employees in three counties, Covington, Lowndes and Butler, and also was responsible for emergency preparedness.

“We are responsible for anything that could make you sick or kill you,” he said.

That includes food inspections, lodging, and on-site sewage disposal. The department has to inspect septic tanks.

“It’s been a great career and a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve worked for and with some really good people.”

Kyzar first started saltwater fishing as a youngster with his father and uncle.

“When you snag something that can pull you out of the boat … well, that ruined me for freshwater fishing,” he said.

He and his wife, Kathy, a obstetric nurse at Andalusia Regional Hospital, will remain in Andalusia, he said.