MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany bid farewell to one of its long-time employees in the payroll office during a retirement ceremony held in the office of the base commanding officer Dec. 29.
As she walked the halls with her million dollar smile and bubbly personality for the last time Dec. 31, Constance Williams, lead financial technician, Civilian Payroll Liaison Office, Office of the Comptroller, MCLB Albany was officially retired.
Always one to respond to how are you doing today with the words, “I’m blessed,” she admits to being excited about retirement.
“I plan to travel a lot, volunteer at my church, spend time with my family, yard work and crochet. As a matter of fact, my husband and I already have our first trip planned next week,” she said.
Williams began her federal career in 1978 as a military pay technician at Ft. Meade, Md. After moving to Albany, Ga., with her husband of nearly 48 years, Benny, she came to work here as a supply technician in July 1980.
Ten months later, she transferred to the comptroller’s division and in January 1990 was promoted to civilian payroll supervisor. She proudly says that she was the first African-American to hold that position.
“A lot has changed in the payroll office since I have been here. In the beginning, we handled all of the accounts manually, including data entry, computing the pay, compensatory time, overtime and part time payroll. Our office was also responsible for verification of employment, child support and alimony payments, tax levies and garnishments, just to name some of our duties,” she said.
Williams said she also remembers the old time clocks that employees were required to punch manually.
Now, the work is much easier thanks to computers and automation. Employees now enter their time in the Standard Labor Data Collection and Distribution Application.
“I consider one of my greatest accomplishments in payroll to be the stand up of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which electronically sends all payroll processing to Cleveland, Ohio. We used to process payroll manually by getting the tapes ready to be sent to the federal reserve. It is much easier now because we just make sure everyone has entered their time, had it certified and that there are no problems or questions,” she added.
Williams said her favorite memory was when she became the first black supervisor in the payroll office.
After overcoming the shock of the appointment, she said she was really excited about the opportunity.
“One of the funniest stories I can remember is when we stopped handing out the leave and earnings statements and started mailing them.This one man came to the counter and was highly upset with us because his wife finally found out how much money he actually made because the LES was mailed to his home address. When she got the mail and opened it, she beat him with a frying pan. I told him we had no choice and that times had changed,” Williams said while laughing.
Williams said the fact that she was able to help someone made her want to come to work everyday.
She said it wasn’t that people depended on her everyday, but the fact that she was there if there was a problem, is what kept her going for so long.
William G. Barnetson, financial supervisor, Office of the Comptroller, said, “When I took over as the supervisor for payroll, I thought I would have difficulty with the position because I knew very little about the job.Connie has been a wonderful, outstanding, dedicated and customer-focused employee and we have worked together as a team to make the civilian payroll process stronger, better and faster. I hope she has a fantastic retirement and hope to see her on the golf course one day soon.”
When asked to share lessons learned, Williams said, “I encourage those I leave behind to stay focused and not get caught up in the rumor mill and ‘water-cooler’ gossip. Don’t allow people to change who you are and keep your personal business to yourself. Plan where you want to be in five, 10 or 20 years from now and work towards that goal,” she said.
Janet Haviland, comptroller, Office of the Comptroller, MCLB Albany, said, “It has been great to work with Connie. She is the subject matter expert and has worked for years in the civilian payroll office providing functional support to the civilians and DFAS.
“I have supervised her twice and have found her to be a hard worker and if there is anything wrong that a customer has with their pay, she will figure it out.She knows her job and always puts the customer first. I am really going to miss her, and I know this (retirement) is a good thing and I am happy for her.”
Williams, a mother of four adult children, says that she really has enjoyed her time working here and will miss the people she has come in contact with.
She says she is a morning person and will still get up early to do her daily chores around the house, but will have no problem adjusting to retirement.
“I have a lot of projects that I have put off, but plan to get back to them after my first trip. I plan to do a lot of cooking, crocheting and fishing. I also enjoy fashion and crafts, so I will be able to pursue some of that now,” she said.