Celebrating Retiring Co-Workers

By John Lacey

When I hear the word retirement, I think of lazy days, afternoon naps and extended vacations. I think about learning yoga (minus the wearing of the stretch pants) and spending more time with my wife. For me retirement seems like a distant snowcapped mountain, but for many it’s just around the corner.

You likely have had a valued co-worker or friend retire and you may have experienced the mixed emotions that accompany such news. On one hand, there’s joy and excitement for your co-workers as they embark on new journeys in their lives. On the other, sadness as your daily interactions and relationships change. But one thing is for certain, we want our retiring co-workers to be celebrated.

So what can we do to let our co-workers know our appreciation for them? Here are three ideas from some recent UT retirees:

Plan a Celebration Dinner

Martha Piles husban and daughter seated with her at a dinner table for her retirement party
“The volunteers that I worked with planned a dinner and called it a ‘roast.’ When they got ready for the roast they announced that it was me who got to roast all of the guests. I loved it! I could not think of anything but supportive things to say to these folks. I talked about special memories that I had with them, when they went the extra mile, saved the day and so on. And just having people that I worked with stop in to recognize UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences efforts that made a difference in their lives was invaluable.”
Martha Pile, Retired UT Extension Agent

A Gift of Recognition Goes a Long Way

“I remain grateful for the many recognitions UT Chattanooga gave me throughout the years. Of all the statements of appreciation that I have received, one stands out most in my mind. It came on a plaque that the department presented me with when I ended my tenure as department head. Along with other words of appreciation it included a quote from one of my favorite authors, Eudora Welty, ‘I have been told… that I seem to love all my characters.’ Like Welty, indeed I do! Thanks to all of them!”
Verbie Prevost
Verbie Prevost, Retired UT Chattanooga Professor of American Literature

Create New and Lasting Memories

Betty Drinnen and her orange and white retirement cake
“All of my co-workers offered their best wishes in the form of a video. As that video played with lots of my favorite music, I was touched by comments from former co-workers, graduate students and former student assistants from around the country—and even Germany. Their happy faces warmed my heart as they thanked me for the lessons they learned while working with me. An orange and white photo booth was a very popular part of the event with lots of tears and laughter. A few weeks later, I was invited back to the office for yet another sweet surprise. All those happy pictures made at the reception had been transformed into a memory book which is proudly displayed in my home along with many University of Tennessee keepsakes.”
Betty Drinnen, Retired UT Knoxville Administrative Specialist and Vol For Life

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