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Gloria Thomas Retires From OTC

Dr. Gail Thaxton and Gloria Thomas

Gloria Gattis Thomas, Director of Public Relations at Okefenokee Technical College, was recently honored at a retirement luncheon by the faculty and staff for her twenty-six years of service to technical education at OTC. Prior to becoming the first Director of Public Relations at the college, she worked as the coordinator of a program at Waycross-Ware Tech called “World of Work.”

As Director of Public Relations, Ms. Thomas was responsible for preparing press releases, leading public relations and marketing projects, developing annual and strategic campaigns, planning and coordinating special events, writing and editing promotional materials for communications, among other duties.

It was rare that Ms. Thomas enjoyed the luxury of just one position at OTC. Along with her duties in Public Relations, Ms. Thomas has also taught English classes and many different Economic Development classes, supervised the bookstore, and worked as the Institutional Advancement Officer and the Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) Coordinator.

Many family members joined Ms. Thomas for this special occasion. Among those attending were her mother, Mrs. Ruby Gattis; her sister, Linda Davis; her brothers, Larry Gattis and Robert Gattis; and her nephew, Thomas Gattis.

Although her sons, Banks and Clay, were not able to attend the luncheon due to work-related conflicts, they demonstrated their admiration and love for their mother by conspiring with their uncles and surprising Gloria with stylish renovations to her kitchen. One of her friends conveniently took Gloria on a lengthy shopping trip while the crew labored feverously to complete the surprise.

Attendees at the luncheon enjoyed a PowerPoint presentation created by Margaret Fairley, Instructional Services Secretary. The presentation featured letters of congratulations and comments by the faculty and staff to Gloria, praising her character, hard work, and integrity. Those submitting letters were especially appreciative of Gloria’s friendship.

Of course, the presentation included pictures of Ms. Thomas. However, finding pictures of Gloria was a difficult task, at best, because she has always been the official photographer for the college, taking pictures of everyone except herself, of course.

The presentation ended with a message that everyone already knew - that Gloria would be spending a good bit of her precious retirement time with some people precious to her: Zack and Jake, her grandchildren by Banks and Johnna, and Banner and Neeley, her grandchildren by Clay and Brooke.

Gloria’s friend and co-worker, Amanda Morris, was the Master of Ceremonies. Amanda commented that she was really going to miss her friend. “The only thing that makes Gloria’s retirement bearable,” commented Morris, “is that she has agreed to have me over for lunch at least once a week.”

Others who made tributes to Ms. Thomas included Mike Henderson, former Vice-President of Instructional Services; Frankie Royer, neighbor and friend; Henry Bryant, former co-worker; Larry Gattis, brother; Ray Miller, former President of OTC; Carol Shugart, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Rick Oliver, former Vice-president of Instructional Services; and Ruby Gattis, Gloria’s mother.

Mr. Henderson’s comments included numerous accolades for everything that Ms. Thomas has done for OTC and for others over the years. He said that Gloria is a special person who will be missed by her colleagues, whether they know it now or not. Mr. Bryant commented on her willingness to always help. Dr. Oliver jokingly told how Gloria improved his ability to accurately rate the appearance of job applicants.

Other friends and former co-workers attending included Susan Allbritton, David Cason, Kim Chaney, Paula Day, Wilda Dowling, Debra Giddens, George Gruver, Diane Harper, B. J. Henderson, Sue Johnson, Barbara Kearson, Shirley Miller, and Joe Woodruff.

OTC Board Members Bonnie Davis and Gary Strickland also attended the luncheon to honor Ms. Thomas, along with Larry Paulk, Marion Davis, Martha Lang, and Bill Higginson, OTC Foundation Trustees.

Dr. Gail Thaxton, President of OTC, presented Ms. Thomas with an Arthur Court tray engraved with her years of service dates. Dr. Thaxton expressed her gratitude to Gloria for the work that she had done to give the college the presence it has in the community today.

Mr. Mark Deal, Environmental Horticulture program instructor, presented Gloria with an elegant Waterford vase on behalf of the faculty and staff.

Ms. Thomas then expressed her appreciation to the retirement committee for their work and to her friends for their support and friendship throughout the years. She said that in her line of work that every project, event, and/or idea required a team effort to implement. She thanked everyone for their part in her career and her life.

Henry Bryant gave the invocation, and everyone enjoyed a delicious homemade meal prepared by the faculty and staff.

One element of the luncheon that made it especially memorable for Gloria was the decorations. Mark Deal and Frankie Royer, an Environmental Horticulture student, created the beautiful centerpiece in the vestibule and the centerpieces for the tables. Both Deal and Royer are long-time friends of Gloria.

Cherie McCarthy, a close friend and co-worker, chaired the retirement committee. Other committee members were Karen Boyle, Angie Crews, Mark Deal, Margaret Fairley, Wanda Freeman, Loutrell Harris, Amanda Morris, and Sally Smith.


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