As the town of Oro Valley approaches its 50th anniversary this April, one of the town’s founders sat down with KGUN 9 to reflect on its growth over the past five decades.

“I think people who live here, like living here,” said Lauren Rhude, who made up one of the five members on the first town council for Oro Valley.

These days, Rhude, who is a 94-year-old military veteran, spends most of his days at the Watermark Retirement Community with his wife, Lila, of 71 years.

“[We’re] getting a little older, and Im 94; shes 92,” said the Colorado Springs native.

But nearly fifty years ago, on April 15, 1974, he, along with the rest of the council, voted to officially make it its own distinct town.

“There were a lot of people who didnt want it to be incorporated. So we had some real battles,” he said regarding the hurdles they had to overcome. “Council meetings almost came to fisticuffs sometimes because some group didnt want it, as they had their five to ten-acre parcels.”

Over the next four years, he would continue serving on the town council, while his wife served as town clerk, as they worked to establish essential services like the Oro Valley Police Department.

At the time, he says Oro Valley had a population of around 1,800 people.

“We needed improved law enforcement, that type of thing. We didnt realize at that time it would expand to what it is.”

Once dubbed ‘Tiny Town,’ Oro Valleys population today sits at 48,000 people, according to U.S. Census data.

And with steady growth since its inception in 1974, Rhude hopes to see that positive trend continue for years to come.

“And that they continue the good methods and rules and regulations, freedom for people that they have now. And I think thatll be the big thing for the future.”