Fort Leonard Wood has gone through many changes over the past four decades, and Karen Crowell has been there to see them all.

Her association with the post began on Oct. 12, 1971, and more than 43 years later she will start a new chapter in life titled "Retirement" on Jan. 30.

Little did she know, a job she applied for during her last year in high school would lead to a life-long career serving those who serve.

"While a high school senior, (someone) from the Civilian Personnel Office came to the school and talked about job opportunities at Fort Leonard Wood," Crowell said. "I put in an application in the spring of 1971, and the rest is 'history.'"

Crowell, who was born in North Dakota but moved to Rolla, Missouri, when she was 6-months old, said the post was a little different when she began her career.

"The Vietnam War was still ongoing, I was a company clerk (working) in a World War II wooden orderly room with an oil pot belly stove for heat and fans for the summer," Crowell said. "(Soldiers in Training) were housed in wooden World War II barracks with no air conditioning, and the post hospital was partly in World War II wooden-buildings. Shortly thereafter, they finished building the brick General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital."

Currently working as a legal clerk for 1st Engineer Brigade, she says the name of the position has changed over the years but her job has stayed the same.

Starting out as a company clerk for Special Training Company, Basic Combat Training Committee Group, Crowell said she became the first civilian brigade legal clerk on Fort Leonard Wood in August 1980 when the BCT Committee Group was reorganized into 1st Training Support Brigade (Provisional).

"In 1986, 1st Training Support Brigade was renamed the 136th Engineer Brigade, and I was still the brigade legal clerk. In 1991, 136th Engineer Brigade and 4th Brigade merged and became 1st Engineer Brigade, and I was still the brigade legal clerk," Crowell added.

Watching Fort Leonard Wood grow and change over the years is what Crowell said are some of her most memorable moments.

Manual typewriters are gone, and most of the old wooden World War II buildings have been replaced by Starship barracks.

A retirement open house for Crowell is scheduled for Jan. 28.

"I will miss meeting and working with commanders, command sergeants major and first sergeants, and will miss the personnel who I have met and worked for in the S1s (administration)," Crowell said.