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Life outside of the cubicle

Life outside of the cubicle

Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson (Ret.), former Air Force Reserve Command commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Florencio Lopez, chief enlisted manager for the HQ AFRC command staff, present Belle Fisher with her 50 year certificate of service at the AFRC commander's call April 26, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Chance Babin)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Georgia -- After more than 52 years of federal service, Theota “Belle” Fisher, Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service marketing specialist, will be retiring and starting the next chapter of her life.

Known to many in the command simply as Ms. Belle, the soon-to-be retiree, who spent the majority of her career working at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, said she is really looking forward to having more time to spend with her family and friends.

“I want to spend more time with my grandson, Mason,” she said. “He’s 13 and loves swimming and fishing, which so does grandma.”

They also enjoy tubing the Chattahoochee River. Belle said she wants to have more time to take care of her mother and for volunteering at her church.

“I serve meals on Wednesday nights at my church,” Belle said. “I love my church.”

But the people she works with at AFRC are what she will miss the most, she said.

“They have really been a family to me over the years,” she said. “We care about each other a lot here. They are the reason it’s going to be hard to leave.”

She made the decision to retire after a serious illness put her in the hospital on her birthday in January of this year.

“I told my best friend, who is now retired also, that if I make it out of the hospital I have to make a change in my life. I have to know what life is like outside of the cubicle because had I lost my life, there would be so many things left undone.”

It was also during her hospital stay that she decided to volunteer even more in retirement. She said she wants to volunteer at hospitals and nursing homes with people who don’t have anyone to visit them.

“I have thought a lot about doing that for years and I remember when I was in the hospital I was thinking ‘What if I had nobody? What if no one cared?’ Belle said.

With everything she plans to do after retirement, she said she is still conflicted about leaving civil service after 52 years with the last 21 years in AFRC. In her time with the Air Force Reserve, she has had many opportunities and adventures but it has been one aspect above all that has kept her in the command; the people.

“The people I work with are really good to me,” she said. “This has been the hardest decision I ever had to make and it’s taking everything I’ve got not to pull back my retirement papers. But if I do that then I’ll never retire.”

One of her co-workers is Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Zwelling, AFRC Recruiting Service manager, who is also leaving the Air Force at the same time as Belle has more than 19 years in recruiting and 34 years of total service. Zwelling, an AFRC legend in his own right, said Ms. Belle has left a lasting impact on him and his entire AFRC team.

“Ms. Belle is a beloved recruiting service legend; her retirement will leave a hole in recruiting that will never be filled,” he said. “But her legend will live on in the hearts of all that have had the privilege of serving with her.”

Even though everyone she works with is going to miss her, she said they all agree she is making the right decision.
Ms. Belle officially retires July 1.

(Editor’s note: Master Sgt. Chance Babin, AFRC Recruiting Service, contributed to this story.)