Northeast Minneapolis stalwart Walt Dziedzic is retiring after 47 years in public life.

Dziedzic, 76, graduated from Edison High School, played professional baseball and fought in the Korean War before returning to finish college and start his public service career as a police officer in the city.

He served on the City Council and has been a commissioner for 12 years on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

And he does not intend to seek reelection as a commissioner representing the east side this year. "The time has come. It just seemed right. I thought I was getting a little old for the job," Dziedzic said, but adding quickly, "although I still give them a battle."

Dziedzic, 76, can be blustery and gruff, but he also is endearing and enthusiastic. He knew how to work the levers in city government.

As he looks back, Dziedzic said he can point to a lot of things that were built on his watch, but that's not what he recalls most fondly. "I took the people's concerns and answered them whether I was in the squad car, the City Council or the parks," Dziedzic said.

Dziedzic and his wife, Pat, raised six children in northeast. The commissioner said Pat encouraged him to sit this election out. He announced the decision in a letter to supporters. "It was a pleasure to serve you. We did it together," Dziedzic wrote.

Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein's district includes northeast Minneapolis. "I've always been a good ally of Walter's and he of me. He's been in public life a long time, and he's earned the right to retire," Stenglein said.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747