Salutes & Awards

November 1, 2013

Longest-serving Air Force civil servant retires

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Senior Airman GRACE LEE
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Dorothy Rowe, 56th Comptroller Squadron chief financial analyst, poses for a photo in 1979. She retires Tuesday as the longest serving civil servant working for the Air Force.

Most dream of crossing the retirement finish line after 20 to 35 years of service. For one civil servant, her date of retirement after 70 years wasn’t determined based on time, but on her ability to work.

For 88-year-old Dorothy Rowe, 56th Comptroller Squadron financial analysis flight chief, going to work didn’t feel like an obligation because it was her passion.

“I enjoy my job and the people I work with,” Rowe said. “They are excellent at their jobs, and I also see them as my family.”

Rowe’s career began in 1943. She was 17 and worked as a clerk typist at the Columbus Army Depot, Ohio. After ten years she accepted a position at Luke Air Force Base as a military pay clerk.

Since that time a lot has changed for Rowe, especially in technology.

Her first assignment was to learn the Dewy Decimal System. She went from using five hard copy ledger books, a 10-key adding machine and filing cabinets to learning how to use a desktop computer.

Rowe, who was eligible for retirement 50 years ago, said she just knew it was time to retire.

“I wasn’t ready to retire 50 years ago,” Rowe said. “I had started working for the government when I was 17. I know the time has come now because I don’t want to die sitting at my desk,” she chuckled.
Elizabeth Garey, 56th CPTS budget analyst, who’s worked for Rowe since 1996, considers Rowe to be a mentor.

“Ms. Rowe was always trying to help us better our skills and advance in our careers,” Garey said. “She was committed to her job and was even-handed and fair when it came to the budget and those she worked with. I think it’s absolutely amazing for her to put in so many years as a civil servant.”

Rowe has a passion for bowling and is seen in the Phoenix Woman’s Bowling Association yearbook for the 1964-1965 bowling season. Dorothy, 88, is scheduled to retire Nov. 5.

First Lt. Christopher Bennett, 56th CPTS budget analyst, considers it an honor serving alongside Rowe.

“She is a very kind and generous woman,” Bennett said. “She gave her entire adult life to the service of her country, not just because she’s a patriot, but because this became her family.”

Maj. Scott Smith, 56th CPTS commander, recognizes the legacy Rowe leaves behind.

“Ms. Dorothy Rowe has been a steadfast, vibrant part of the financial community at Luke,” Smith said. “We have mixed emotions as we celebrate her 70-year distinguished career, recognizing that Dorothy truly loved her job. Her dedication stands as an inspiration to everyone and serves as a reminder of how one Airman can profoundly impact countless others across our community. Dorothy will remain a treasured member of our Comptroller family.”

Rowe leaves Luke Thunderbolts with fond memories.

“I have no regrets whatsoever, because I liked my job and the people I worked with,” she said. “If I could, I would do it all over again.”

Rowe is scheduled to retire in a ceremony Tuesday.




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