Williams says goodbye after 28 years

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 6, 2006

She is responsible for the money and the paperwork coming in and out of the Marengo County Technical Center. She keeps her co-workers in line. And just because she is the oldest one at the Center with the most years under her belt, doesn’t mean she is there to play “mommy.”

But just in her colleagues forget, she has a sign to remind them – “Your mother does not work here and you will have to pick up after yourself.”

Her name is Barbara Williams and she has worked at the Center since its doors opened for the first time in 1978.

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For 28 years Williams has been the secretary for the Center, but at the end of the school year, she will officially be retired.

“I’ve been here for four principals, three superintendents, three different career tech counselors, and several different teachers,” she said, “Every one of them has been wonderful, but it’s just time to retire.”

The Pensacola, Fla., native said she originally moved to her mother’s home in Walker County in northern Alabama, where she met her first husband and gave birth to two sons.

After divorcing her husband, she moved back to Pensacola. But Williams wasn’t there long before her aunt begged her to move to Linden, where she eventually met her second husband in 1982.

“I was looking for a job when I got here and necessity brought me to the center,” she said. “I was hoping it would be my job for a while, but I didn’t think I would still be here.”

Williams, who said she thought she’d have to leave when everything switched to computers, said she wants to leave while she is still healthy so she and her husband can spend time with their family and traveling.

“It’s awfully hard leaving him at home everyday knowing he gets to do whatever he wants,” Williams said of her husband who recently retired. “My mother is 90 so I want to spend time with her and my kids and grandchildren. I have two sons, two stepchildren and four grandkids.”

And even though her relatives will be able to spend more time with Williams, her family at the Center said she will be greatly missed at the start of the new school year.

“She’s a good employee and I hate to lose a great employee,” career technical director George Baldwin said. “I hope she changes her mind and comes back for a few more years because her shoes will be hard to fill.”

But career tech counselor Rebecca Vick said she has already tried to convince her to stay, and her persuasive skills weren’t strong enough.

“We’ve become very close and I’ve only been here a year,” Vick said, “We are all very sad to see her go, but she’ll always be a part of the family here.”

Vick said Williams has a great sense of humor although she was strict when it came to getting work done and keeping the office clean.

“I remember washing the dishes one day and I would put them in the rack,” Vick laughed. “Well, she likes the forks pointing down and I was putting them up. So every time I put a fork or something away, she would flip it.”

Williams said although her last day is May 31, she will come back to visit since her home is not far away.

“I will take as much time as it takes to teach the person coming in,” she said, “and I will always be on the phone at the other end whenever they need me. I was telling Mr. Baldwin maybe his next secretary won’t be as strict.”