By Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs
/ Published October 28, 2014
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AFNS) -- The first Super Bowl, a presidential assassination, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and a couple government shutdowns are just a few of the things Ramona Moore has passed on her path.
"The government furlough was rough," she recalled a more recent event. "I think that's happened to me twice now."
She looked up from her mechanical pencil, the eraser at the end worn from fidgeting as much as use, as she mentioned the shutdown with the kind of nonchalance only 57 years of employment could muster.
Moore, a budget analyst for the 673rd Comptroller Squadron, is retiring Oct. 31 after 57 years of civilian service to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Fort Richardson and now the joint base administration.
Moore has a soft, but clear voice with a quiet authority that comes with experience. The analyst grew up in Alaska, but her family is from the West, where they lost their Wyoming homestead in 1934, leaving them with no land, but plenty of motivation and from there they moved to Hope, Alaska.
Hope had only one school, with an equal number of rooms. There was no local secondary school but Moore took correspondence courses from the University of Nebraska and received her high school diploma. After graduating, the independent Moore moved to Anchorage, Alaska, looking for work, and snagged a temporary job as a supply clerk at Elmendorf Air Force Base.
Moore did not expect her temporary job to turn into a career spanning nearly six decades, but said she's glad it did. She said living as a career woman in 1957 wasn't a novelty; it was a necessity.
"I wasn't looking for a higher reason," Moore said. "I just needed to survive."
She smiled as she listed off her few possessions at the time.
"When I started, I had no car; I had a just a few clothes and I was paid $18 a month for rent. I got paid $160 a pay period," she said with a chuckle. "I didn't know what I was going to do with all that money. I bought a used Mercury to see my family in Hope."
After working as a GS-3 in supply for four years, Moore netted a promotion to GS-4 which put her in finance, where she would eventually retire.
Moore explained that for Soldiers to get paid back then, they needed to go to the finance building and go downstairs to "the cage" to receive their checks.
"Everything was paper and ink then," Moore said as she recalled herself and co-workers being buried in paper and surrounded by boxes.
"It seems unbelievable at times," Moore said ruefully as she reflected on how much has changed since she began. "It doesn't feel like the same job."
She recalled computers that filled entire rooms and Soldiers who used them to run reports at night, leaving the printouts at finance.
Technology isn't the only thing that changed around Moore. Her professional career would cover a timeline of global and national events that have been considered history for years.
"I was just sitting there, working, and the first sergeant popped his head in and said, 'The president's been shot.'
"I asked him, 'The president of what?' It had never occurred to me that (our) president would be shot," Moore said as she recalled the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
The next year, however, Moore would live through a truly earth shattering event that would strike closer to home.
When the “Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964” struck, Moore was in downtown Anchorage, picking up her sister from her job. The destruction in downtown was so rampant and the earthquake destroyed most of downtown -- but Soldiers still needed to get paid.
"There were some of those long, hanging fluorescent lights that fell and shattered, causing some damage," she said as if still seeing the broken glass. "But we were back to work by the end of the next week."
Moore did not know if her family a little over an hour away in Hope was safe or not and an aftershock soon hit the Friday after. It would be a while before any mail could come. Until then, she only had the radio.
"I really hate earthquakes. It scared me to death," she said.
As devastating as the earthquake was, Moore said one of her biggest challenges during her career, from a professional standpoing, was the joint base merger. She explained each installation's finance office operated with completely different methods at the time.
"They talked about it for five or six years ... I thought I'd be retired before they ever did joint basing," Moore said.
However, Moore and her colleagues overcame the challenge and completed their merger into Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
The extent of Moore's career and her relationships with her co-workers is testament to the effects of her positive attitude in the workplace.
"I am really sad to see her go," said Dawn Rominske, a lead budget analyst with the 673rd Comptroller Squadron. "She's like mom to us … She's a perfectionist. She sees things we never could and keeps us in line.”
Moore's expectation of excellence isn't limited to those around her, but is part of her motivation for retiring.
"I feel like I'm at an age where I need to retire before I can't perform my job as well as it should be performed," she said, tapping her pencil. "I really hate to let go of that job. I can tell you, as you get older, what you want to do changes a lot."
For 57 years, Moore has been a rock in a world where the only constant is change. Now, with tears and laughter, the change is coming her way.
"You're going along and everything's fine," she said. "Then all of a sudden, you're done."