REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--After 60 years of government service, Rosa Smalls figures she'll do what she wants to do.

So she's retiring and returning to her native Philadelphia.

"I'm going home," Smalls said at her retirement celebration Friday in the Sparkman Center. She served as a logistics management specialist in the Lead AMC Integration Support Office since 1993.

Gen. Ann Dunwoody, commander of the Army Materiel Command, presented a four-star letter and coin to Smalls.

"I just want to say thank you for your service," Dunwoody said. "You look like you are ready to do another 60, though."

But that's not in her plans. Smalls plans to move to Philadelphia at the end of September to be with her family. She has a daughter, granddaughter, grandson and great-granddaughter. Her husband Leroy died in 2000.

"I want to do everything that I wasn't able to do during the time I was working," she said. "I'm serious -- everything I desired to do but couldn't do because I was working. Next year they're having a retirement cruise for me."

She said her family plans to give her that cruise in May 2012.

"I'm headed home (to Philadelphia) to be there with my family," Smalls said.

During the retirement celebration, she recalled her government career. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she graduated from high school and didn't have enough money for college. So she looked for work. After no success finding a government job, her parents convinced her to try one more time.

"Fortunately I believe in being obedient, especially to your parents," she said. This time her doorbell rang and it was Western Union -- "so you know I'm going back 60 years," she quipped -- with the good news that she was hired for 90 days.

"I want to tell you 90 days turned into 60 years," Smalls said.

Page last updated Thu August 25th, 2011 at 00:00