FORT DRUM, N.Y. - Through four decades, one employee has worked to improve the lives of Soldiers, Families and civilians.

Since 1971, Lynn C. Schwabenthal, Fort Drum special projects officer, has worked in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation field to entertain those who serve and sacrifice for their country.

"Not working is going to be interesting," said Schwabenthal, whose last day at work was Feb. 3, although she officially retires March 10. "I have never not worked, so it will be a challenge. But I have a lot of friends in the area and I have a lot of interests, so I will have plenty of things to do."

Schwabenthal began her career May 12, 1971, as a recreation specialist at the Algiers Service Club in Grafenworh, Germany. During her time in Germany, she supported USO and Department of Defense shows and ran programs to support Soldiers training in the field.

She served in Germany from 1971 until 1981 when she left Heilbronn, Germany, as the supervisory recreation center director to assume the duties of recreation center director at Camp Hovey, Korea.

While in Korea, she helped evaluate recreational needs for Soldiers stationed at remote sites along the demilitarized zone and established standards for recreational supplies needed at each site.

She was soon promoted as director of the largest Army recreation center in Korea at the Moyer Recreation Center in Seoul. Along with those duties, she was temporarily assigned as the youth director to correct deficiencies in the program there.

Schwabenthal became part of the North Country family in 1983 when she accepted the job as community recreation division chief at Fort Drum.

"When it was time to come back to the states, I was offered two jobs, one here and one in Washington (state), and I decided here was a better fit, and it was a great choice," Schwabenthal said. "I love the people, the area and the community. I've been really happy."

During the reactivation of 10th Mountain Division (LI) at Fort Drum, Schwabenthal played a large role in the design of Fort Drum's new facilities, such as Arts and Crafts, Automotive Skills Center, Parks and Recreation, McEwen Library, Youth Center, car washes and parks. She also was one of the primary planners for the first Mountainfest celebration at Fort Drum.

"When I was here for about six or seven months, (Army officials) came to us and asked what we would do if (the Army) assigned a division to Fort Drum, so we had to come up with a lot of scenarios," Schwabenthal said. "Finally, they told us they were going to station the 10th Mountain Division here, and the really exciting part for me was we were going to design a whole new post.

"And because we were such a small number of people, most of us had a part to play in the design of the new post," she added. "Our (philosophy) was 'every tree is sacred,' and we were going to make Fort Drum a beautiful place. That was our goal and we went from there. There were all kinds of ideas, and it was really exciting to be involved."

During her time Fort Drum, she has also coordinated with the White House for two presidential visits by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. For more than seven years, she was an adviser to Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers and also was instrumental as the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation adviser for the Fort Drum Centennial Air Show and Concert in 2008.

Schwabenthal said that during her career, she has had a unique opportunity to work with Soldiers, Family Members, youths, teens and retirees. Her experiences have included recreational activities for groups as small as five or six to major events like concerts and festivals for thousands.

She has seen Army recreation and family support programs grow from the "special services" days to the FMWR services of today.

"I have had a really great career," Schwabenthal said. "It started out as a job right out of college, and I got paid to play cards a lot.

"I want to say the Soldiers and Families are near and dear to my heart," she added. "I appreciate all they do. My goal was always to take care of them, and I hope I've done a good job for them."