By Mr. Gordon Vanvleet (NETCOM)September 1, 2009
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. - "I have had a love affair with Fort Huachuca since I first arrived." That statement summed up the 54 years of federal service for one post employee who is retiring after having served on this historic Army post since the mid 1950s.
Betty Olson, known as 'Miss Betty' formally here, secretary to the commanding general for the Army's Signal Command at Fort Huachuca for more than 40 years and a federal employee for the last 54 years, retired Friday a day after a daylong celebration of her achievements as one of this post's longest recorded employees.
The daylong celebration of her commitment to the Army was held Aug. 27, during which she was visited by more than 200 current and former employees here.
Olson's journey to this historic Army post started from Wright Field, Ohio (currently known as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base), when she left her job as a bookkeeper at the Wilber Wright Officer Club at Wright Field and moved to Tucson, Ariz. Olson soon realized there were better opportunities for jobs further south in Douglas, Ariz. After a few years of working in Douglas, Olson heard that Fort Huachuca was opening and she applied to work for the Army. It was then that she started work here for Army transportation in the motor pool as a file clerk in 1956.
It wasn't long before Olson found her way to work in what is called Greely Hall.
"I would often pass by Greely Hall as it was being constructed and said to myself that I wanted to work there," said Olson.
Her first job in Greely Hall was not with the Army's Signal Command, but it didn't take her long to get a job in the top office for signal. Olson had set her mind that she wanted to work in the front office. Working in the front office is something she is proud of because she said that was her goal from the beginning; she reached her goal and held onto it ... and held on she did. Olson has served as the commanding general's secretary to 17 different commanding generals, one of them twice.
The U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command (Army) has gone through numerous name changes since Olson has been a member, but there was always one constant, and that constant has been 'Miss Betty.'
"No matter what, when people visit this headquarters, they always remember one thing and that is Betty," said Lt. Gen. (retired) Thurman Rodgers, one of the many commanding general's Olson has worked for. "Betty is a part of this command as much as anything. She will be missed, but never forgotten." Rodgers traveled from his home in Chattanooga, Tenn., to be with Olson during her retirement celebration.
"I am so honored that he (Lt. Gen. Rodgers) came here for my retirement," said Olson. "It made this day even more special."
Olson remembers like yesterday the first time she was told she got the job as secretary to the commanding general.
"I remember General Grombacher [Maj. Gen. (retired) Gerd S. Grombracher] wrote on a clean sheet of yellow legal paper the words 'You're It' and holding the pad out around the corner of the doorway so all I could see was his hand and the yellow tablet," said Olson. "That was how I found out I was selected to be the commanding general's secretary. That was the way he was. He was a wonderful person to work for and I'll never forget how kind he was to me.
"When I first came here to work at Fort Huachuca I told myself I would give it one year no matter what," said Olson.
Many, many years later, that promise has been one of the best things to happen to this command and this post. And now, like so many other things that have become a permanent part of this post's history, it has come time to say goodbye; but in the case of Miss Betty, goodbye may be a bit premature. The current commanding general of the 9th Signal Command, Maj. Gen. Susan Lawrence, has asked Olson to stay on in an unofficial capacity and help the command as a community liaison person. So, even though Olson will retire from federal service, she will not retire from gracing the hallways of the building she spent more than half her life working.