Luncheon feeds retirees, fuels camaraderie

Tom Conning

Public Affairs Office

PORTLAND, Ore. — More than 50 Portland District retirees and 20 current employees dined, reminisced and joked with each other during the District’s annual Retiree Luncheon, May 12. The event was a chance for Col. Jose Aguilar, Portland District commander, to update the retired portion of the District’s family about current project statuses, successes and challenges. The group also honored a fellow retiree by inducting him in to the Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees.

Maj. John Cunningham (far right), Portland District acting deputy commander, visits with Terry Connell (center), retired District commander, and Pat Keough, District retiree, during the Retiree Luncheon, May 12. More than 50 retirees attended the annual event. (Corps of Engineers Photo)

This year’s inductee was Don Chambers, a former Engineering and Construction Division chief. Lance Helwig, the division’s current chief, nominated his former mentor and introduced him during the awards part of the luncheon.

“Having the opportunity to introduce Don and tell his amazing story of his contributions to this District, let alone the nation, was overwhelming,” said Helwig. “He shaped my career for several decades,” he continued.  “I could always count upon his candid, but measured and thoughtful advice.”

Chambers’ positive and lasting impact on everyone he had worked with during more than 35 years with the District, in part, led to his nomination and selection as the distinguished civilian inductee. Judi Hutchings, District executive assistant, guided the nomination selection process.

Don Chambers, former District Engineering and Construction chief, reminisces with Suzanne Ericson, District retiree, during a luncheon for retirees, May 12. The District inducted Chambers into the Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees as part of the festivities. (Corps of Engineers photo)

Don Chambers, former District Engineering and Construction chief, reminisces with Suzanne Ericson, District retiree, during a luncheon for retirees, May 12. The District inducted Chambers into the Gallery of Distinguished Civilian Employees as part of the festivities. (Corps of Engineers photo)

“Each division nominates a former employee who must meet rigorous criteria for consideration to be inducted,” said Hutchings. “We also accept nominations from our retiree community, but all nominations must articulate a solid history of the nominee’s accomplishments.”

Two former district commanders attended, as well as other distinguished civilians inductees. Bud Ossey, 98, a retiree who attended the dedication ceremony for Bonneville Lock and Dam in 1938 also attended the event.

The retiree luncheon generally occurs in early May.