Woodrow Portee and his wife pose for a photo with others in attendance at his retirement ceremony at the Exchange March 4. (Josephine Carlson)

By Josie Carlson Fort Jackson Leader

Originally from Hopkins, South Carolina, Woodrow Portee started working as a busboy in 1961 when there was a cafeteria on Fort Jackson. He worked many positions throughout the years, all the way up to stock room manager. He took a brief break after his first retirement in 1997, but came right back to working at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service a few months later.

Now after almost 60 years since his first position, Portee is retiring again, this time with plans to actually relax and play music. Portee has played the guitar in a local band in the past and hopes to get back into music during his retirement.

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Algrish Williams, who attended an event at the Exchange March 4, honoring Portee said, “It’s truly a blessing to have someone that is so dedicated to serving people…I’ve seen (Portee) around the store and he’s always smiling.”.

Thomas Kuttamperoor, AAFES General Manager at Fort Jackson and Shaw Air Force Base, added, “Mr. Portee, You make it possible for a lot of us to come to work and enjoy what we do.”

Many people who have worked with Portee were given the opportunity to speak including Leatrice Peyton, store manager at Shaw Air Force Base, who has worked with Portee in many different stores.

“It has been my honor, it has been my pleasure,” Peyton said. “… I just want to take the opportunity to thank you for all that you have done for this exchange.”

Along with Portee’s retirement, AAFES also took this day to acknowledge and congratulate Lesbia Cunningham for her 30 years of service. Common Orris, store manager, presented Cunningham with what she called a “well-deserved” 30-Year Service Award.

“Lesbia has not changed in all these years, she has been faithful. Anything that is asked of her, she accomplishes it 100%,” Orris said.

Portee gave the final words at the event.

“Even though you don’t see a military suit on me, underneath this shirt I have a military suit on because I have been around and serving the U.S. Army for 58 years … I still am serving them in my heart,” he said.