Glendale woman retires from Air Force job

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 10, 2013 at 7:07 am •  Published: November 10, 2013

PHOENIX (AP) — The day before her retirement ceremony at Luke Air Force Base, Dorothy Rowe was at her Glendale home deciding what to wear.

"When I leave, I want to go out with people saying, 'Wow, she's good looking!'" she said.

Rowe opted for the classic look: a black pantsuit, a white shirt and something that she never dreamed she'd ever have to wear, "old lady shoes."

At 88 years old, however, Rowe opted for comfortable shoes for her big goodbye.

Last week, Luke Air Force Base honored Rowe's 70-year career with United States Department of Defense, 60 of those years devoted to the Air Force. She was the longest serving civil servant in the Air Force and the second longest in the entire Department of Defense, according to Luke officials.

Acting Secretary of the Air Force Erik Fanning, her squadron's commander Maj. Scott Smith and dozens of family and friends attended her retirement party. Letters of congratulations sent from various Air Force officials, Sen. John McCain, Gov. Jan Brewer and President Barrack Obama were read aloud during the ceremony.

She ended her career as the Chief of Financial Analysis for the 56th Comptroller Squadron, a position she worked toward since she arrived at Luke as a secretary in 1953.

Born in Pennsylvania, Rowe's family moved to Ohio during her childhood. She was a high school student en route to becoming an Ohio State Buckeye when military recruiters visited her school when she was a junior.

The recruiters had been administering tests to students across the country, looking for civilians to fill roles left behind as the troops left for Europe and the Pacific theater in World War II. She passed the test as a junior, but declined a job to finish her high school education.

The next year, 1943, the recruiters returned. Rowe, then 17 years old, aced the test again. After graduation, she immediately went to work as a clerk typist at the Columbus Quartermaster Reserve Depot, now the Columbus Defense Supply Center.

"I thought, 'This is great, I can finally get a job,'" Rowe said.

"When I walked into that office that day, I bartered my life away for 70 years," she joked.

She worked in Columbus for the next 10 years. When she visited a friend in Arizona in 1953, the warm weather and job opening at Luke led her to move to the Southwest.

Rowe devoted the next 60 years to her rise from secretary to the finance officer to the chief of financial analysis at Luke. She decided a year ago that 70 years was enough.

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