Friends and well-wishers gathered at the Cruz Bay Battery on Thursday afternoon, January 7, to wish three women — with almost 100 years of government service between them — happy retirement.
After 41 years as Administrator Secretary II, Helen Francis has been an integral part of keeping the St. John government cogs turning.
As different governmental administrations came and went, Francis was the one person who remained. She worked with Administrators William Lomax, James Dalmida, Julien
Harley and current St. John Administrator Leona Smith.
Friends often asked Francis when she would call it quits at the Battery, she explained.
“My friends would always ask me, ‘Ms. Francis, when are you going to retire,’” she said. “I always said, ‘I’ll retire when I’m ready.’ Well, they’re not going to be asking me that anymore.”
Now that she has officially spent her last day at her desk in the St. John Administrator’s office, Francis will be spending more of her time cultivating her voice, spirituality and dance moves.
A member of the Emmaus Moravian Church congregation, Francis also sings with the church choir, is involved with bible study groups and Quadrille dancing.
“I have things that will keep me busy,” said Francis. “I might travel a bit, but the choir, my bible study and Quadrille will keep me going.”
Natalie Thomas isn’t about to slow down either. The Deputy Supervisor of Elections, who has worked with the department for 31 years, is not ready to put on a bathrobe and eat bonbons, she explained.
“I’m not going to just stay home and put my feet up,” said Thomas. “Under the V.I. Code, government workers who are retired are allowed to work for 75 days or so and I plan on doing some work to keep busy.”
“I’ll stay active for a little while longer,” Thomas said.
After 25 years as Election Assistant, Ecelma Sprauve also retired at the end of 2009. When she was first hired in the mid-1980s, Sprauve didn’t know she would remain in her position for more than two decades.
“I just loved it so much,” said Sprauve. “I love meeting people every day and I’ll miss the staff. I loved the busy season of election time.”
“I might have to give them a hand this year during election time,” Sprauve said.
While Sprauve will miss the fast paced election time days, she plans to enjoy her retirement.
“I’m not sure what exactly I’m going to do, but I plan to enjoy life and maybe travel a bit,” said Sprauve.