Longtime UAA employee Bo Lauramore, center, being honored at Jacksonville State game.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Bo Lauramore was somewhere in the woods last week when he answered his cellphone.
He had enough reception that the phone call somehow made it through. That’s often not the case and will continue to be as Lauramore opens the next chapter of his life.
Those who are closest to Winford Bo Lauramore will have to get used to leaving voicemails because he plans to spend a lot more time in the woods and on his boat than he has the last five decades.
The 62-year-old Lauramore, longtime director of maintenance at the University Athletic Association, recently announced his retirement after 38 years at the UAA. His first Gators football game was the 1974 season opener against California.
“Some fans I have seen for years and years and years,’’ he said. “I like the other sports, but to me there is nothing like college football. The process you go through to get ready for a game. Come Saturday and you look around and everything is fresh-painted and everything is clean and the field looks great. People just get really charged up about the Florida Gators.”
Lauramore was back on campus Tuesday for a reception in his honor.
Lauramore’s first job for the UAA was as a carpenter’s helper. The woodshop was to the right of Gate 1 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium where the Smith Conference Room now is. Instead of a woodshop, the room now hosts meetings and football press conferences.
Lauramore quickly moved up the chain, taking over as maintenance director in 1989. In reality he was the ultimate Mr. Handy Man. Lauramore served as a carpenter, painter, electrician, welder, mechanic and whatever else needed to be done around the UAA.
Born in Macclenny and one of 14 children – he was the seventh born – Lauramore developed his affable personality early in such a big family. He joined the UAA family after time spent as a mechanic and as an airplane painter during the Vietnam War.
While working for Aero Corp. in Lake City, Lauramore said they would paint C-130 and C-41 transport planes camouflage to get them prepared to fly over to Vietnam.
A few years later he found himself spray painting Florida football helmets orange the day before games, branding the then-wooden bleachers at Ben Hill Griffin with seat numbers, and spray painting signs around the stadium.
Those signs are now vinyl thanks to a vinyl-making machine the department got several years ago.
“That was probably one of the biggest steps we took,’’ he said. “It made some things easier. We’ve had some great sign painters there over the years.”
Lauramore likes to joke that he has a Ph. D. degree – Post Hole Digger – since he didn’t go to college. While he didn’t attend UF as a student, he certainly found a home here.
“I became a Gator fan probably when I was about 16 when I could start hearing some of it on the radio,’’ he said.
Lauramore plans to enjoy his retirement and go back to being a fan on game days at The Swamp, where he would usually show up around 6 a.m. for work on fall Saturdays during the football season.
“I’m doing quite a bit of hunting,’’ Lauramore said. “Fishing will be ready before long. Try to spend a lot more time with my [three] grandkids. I’m not looking for another job -- that’s for sure.”
As such a constant presence around the UAA, Lauramore got to know many coaches and players over the years.
One of his favorites was the late Charley Pell, who took over the Gators football program a few years after Lauramore started working for the UAA.
“Charley Pell was a good guy. He would speak to you and talk to you just like you were neighbors,’’ he said.
Later in his career at the UAA Lauramore attended the Gators’ bowl games and appearances in three national championship games. He had a difficult time picking a favorite, finally settling on Florida’s win over Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game.
“I really loved that one because of the way the game started off,’’ he said. “They run [the opening kickoff] back and the people started point at us, doing the Gator chomp at us,’’ he said. “After we scored a couple of times, all the guys that were trying to Gator chomp us, they try to sneak out of the stadium. And we started hollering at them. That was a great game.”
One of the first goals Lauramore has in retirement is to join a hunting club in Georgia where he hunts at occasionally. The place has 25,000 acres to hunt and a campsite to park the RV for a week or two if he wants.
Good luck trying to reach him on his cellphone then. But if you do, he might end the call the way he did with a recent caller.