FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii -- A gentle trade wind breeze cooled the crowd around the Palm Gazebo, offering a brief moment of respite from the sweltering heat of the afternoon sun on Jul. 1. Those in attendance had come to witness the Change of Directorate ceremony for the highly decorated Regional Cyber Center -- Pacific.
Despite the cheery atmosphere, the smile and laugh of one individual was noticeably absent. Odette "Odie" Bartolome Laroya passed away on 23 January 2015. She was 51. Those fortunate enough to have known Laroya continue to find themselves struggling to fill the void that she had so long occupied.
"One of Odie's beliefs in life was the importance of being faithful with people, saying what needs to be said because it's good for the relationship and for the soul," said coworker Lily Alonzo. "I always admire how Odie never judged or forced her opinions on anyone, but offered valuable and honest advice that I will surely miss."
RCC-P's role is to provide help desk and other strategic signal support for thousands of end users throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Laroya first joined the RCC-P team in 2004, where she assisted in the transition from LandWarNet-Pacific to Active Directory. She officially began working at RCC-P in 2005 as a Contract Officer Representative (COR) for the IT Active Directory Support Contract, where she was the local manager for the annual $1.5 million service contract.
"As with other duties Odie had, she ran her management of the contract like a Swiss watch," said Phillip Lynch, RCC-P Deputy Director. "Her value came from her personality and her applying that personality to her job. Her willingness to assist, sometimes maybe grumbling along the way about what was, or was not done to prepare, but always taking part nonetheless, and more often providing what was needed to complete the job."
Laroya was a central figure in her community, and her generosity impacted everyone around her. She taught church youths about the history of the church, and conducted bible study classes. To Laroya, that was not enough, as she conducted different activities that developed children physically, spiritually, and mentally.
"Looking at the gathering for Odie's remembrance, the majority of the people there were either students (both past and present), or co-members of her youth groups," said Lynch.
The amount of love in the relationship between Odie and her husband Brian was undeniable, but the massive reach of it was not fully grasped until after her passing. To cope with his loss, Brian sought to be in the same space that Odie once worked in. The RCC-P Director granted him access to the RCC-P in order to visit Odie's workspace, and invited him to visit anytime he needed to feel close or be around those who had been in the same presence as her. Through Brian's personal grieving, friends and coworkers of Odie had the ability to grieve themselves, reminiscing and cherishing the memories together as they began to march on.
"Odie was love; she gave it to so many, and it's coming back to me," said Brian.
The trade winds will continue to blow and the sun will forever rise and set, while people come and go. And just as the Change of Directorate ceremony marks the exit of one leader and the introduction of a new one, the legacy and memories of those who have left are what carry on and are remembered. Odette "Odie" Laroya left a lasting legacy in her community, and her role as the RCC-P 'mom' will never be forgotten.