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Dorothy Rowe

Dorothy Rowe, 56th Comptroller Squadron chief financial analyst, poses for a photo in 1979. The longest serving civil servant working for the Air Force. (Courtesy photo)

Dorothy Rowe was a well-loved and admired civilian employee at Luke Air Force Base.  She has the distinction of being the longest-serving Federal civil servant in the Air Force.  She retired after serving 70 years for the Department of Defense–60 of which were at Luke Air Force Base with the 56th Comptroller Squadron as Chief of Financial Analysis.

Dorothy’s retirement ceremony in November 2013 drew hundreds in attendance from the City of Glendale Mayor, Jerry Weiers, to the present Under Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning.

“To put her longevity into perspective, Fanning said, “Rowe had served under 13 presidents, seen Luke AFB transition between four major commands and worked for 40 wing commanders. She also blazed a trail for women in the financial management career field.

“The energy, passion and spirit that Dorothy brought to her job over the past 70 years will live on in the hundreds of Airmen she has impacted,” Fanning said.

Shortly after her retirement, Dorothy Rowe passed away on Saturday, March 14, 2014.  She was born on July 15, 1925 in Harrison Township, Pennsylvania.  After graduating from high school in 1943 in Columbus, Ohio, she began her civil service career for the Army and Air Corps at the Columbus Quartermaster Reserve Depot.  She was 17 and worked as a clerk typist.  After 10 years, she accepted a position at Luke as a military pay clerk in 1953 where she worked the next 60 years.

Dorothy had a passion for bowling. She was a long time member of the Phoenix Women’s Bowling Association and the International Bowling Congress Board of Directors. Dorothy served on the Board of Directors at Credit Union West for over 15 years.

Mr. Robert MacGregor, President and Chief Executive Officer for Credit Union West, said of Dorothy, “I have known Dorothy for about 20 years and she is one of the most memorable people I have ever met. She did what she did for all the right reasons. She loved her country and she loved the people she worked with throughout the years. Dorothy felt that being able to work with so many young people that were dedicated to serving our country is what kept her young. Miss Dorothy was loved and respected by all who came to know her.

Dorothy knew that all of our time on this earth is limited and it was very important to her to leave some kind of legacy. Some of her last thoughts were how she could continue to help the men and women at Luke Air Force Base after her passing. Dorothy felt that Fighter Country Partnership and Fighter Country Foundation were the vehicles that had proven they were there for the right reasons. Dorothy requested that in lieu of flowers at her funeral, she wanted donations to go to Fighter Country Foundation. Fighter Country Partnership was the only charity she named in her last thoughts. In Dorothy’s mind it was always about serving the men and women of Luke Air Force Base.

According to the Luke newspaper, The Thunderbolt, article written by Senior Airman Grace Lee of the 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office,

“Most dream of crossing the retirement finish line after 20 to 35 years of service. For one civil servant, her date of retirement after 70 years wasn’t determined based on time, but on her ability to work.

For 88-year-old Dorothy Rowe, 56th Comptroller Squadron financial analysis flight chief, going to work didn’t feel like an obligation because it was her passion.

“I enjoy my job and the people I work with,” Rowe said. “They are excellent at their jobs, and I also see them as my family.”

First Lt. Christopher Bennett, 56th CPTS budget analyst, considers it an honor serving alongside Rowe and before her retirement he said, “She is a very kind and generous woman,” Bennett said. “She gave her entire adult life to the service of her country, not just because she’s a patriot, but because the men and women of the 56th Fighter Wing Comptroller Squadron became her family.
Rowe, who was eligible for retirement 50 years ago, said she just knew it was time to retire.

“I wasn’t ready to retire 50 years ago,” Rowe said. “I had started working for the government when I was 17. I know the time has come now because I don’t want to die sitting at my desk,” she chuckled.

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