FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker's first lady bid friends and Family farewell Aug. 2 after two years of dedicated service and volunteerism to the installation community.

During her time here, Debbie Barclay, wife of Maj. Gen. James O. Barclay III, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, emphasized improving Soldiers' and Families' quality of life through supporting current programs and establishing new ones.

She said she believed Fort Rucker's success came from the Wiregrass communities' support for the military and people working together.

"It's not about the place. It's about the relationships (you build)," she said.

During her time here, Barclay helped oversee improvements in Family Readiness Groups, including the grand opening of the FRG's main facility, The Commons, on Seventh Avenue in May. She was an active member in the Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club, and also participated in senior spouses meetings, shared countless volunteer hours and joined in many other community projects.

The Barclays married in 1978, and since then, they have lived at many Army installations throughout the world. During her stays in different states and countries, she never missed an opportunity to pass along her years of wisdom to younger military husbands and wives.

"Get involved. (Being a military spouse) is a leap of faith. Take that first step (to meet people). People will embrace you when you do that. Put yourself out there. Sign up, volunteer," she said.

Barclay said her favorite memories here include any time she interacted with Soldiers and Families.
FRCSC members hosted a farewell luncheon at the headquarters building Monday, where Barclay's friends said goodbye and shared their times spent with her.

Esther Muskopf, wife of Col. James Muskopf, garrison commander, said this is the second time the two Families have been stationed at the same location. They previously served together at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2002.

"Debbie's very personable. When she speaks, she speaks from the heart. She wears her heart on her sleeve," Muskopf said.

"She's been our biggest cheerleader and most ardent supporter," said Crissy Baker, FRCSC president. "She will be in our hearts forever ... with her sweet southern style and tenacity."

Kim Ball said she befriended Barclay 15 years ago, and sought her guidance and advice ever since.

"She's always been a wonderful mentor. She's real and she loves people. It's all about others. She gives selflessly all the time. She's a team builder," said Ball, wife of Col. Daniel Ball, USAACE chief of staff.

The Barclays next move to work at the Pentagon, in Washington, D.C., where Debbie said she hopes to become involved in the Wounded Warrior Project and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, two Army organizations she strongly believes in.

Friends noted Fort Rucker will lose a unique, special team when the Barclays leave Alabama.

"Debbie will leave a void. Debbie's larger than life with her vivacious personality," Ball said.