News Stories

Nearly 50 years of service and still delivering to the District

USACE, Mobile District
Published March 22, 2023
Lady sitting at desk.

Frances Skelton, Supply Technician for the Tuscaloosa Office, poses at her desk March 15, 2023, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Skelton started her career in the Corps in 1973 and has worked for the Mobile District for almost 50 years. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

Lady sitting at desk reading papers.

Frances Skelton, Supply Technician at the Tuscaloosa Office, checks over paperwork at her desk March 15, 2023, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Skelton, who started working for the Corps in 1973, said one of the highlights of her career was receiving a customer care award from her peers. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

Lady sitting getting papers from another lady.

Frances Skelton, Supply Technician at the Tuscaloosa Office, right, hands paperwork to her supervisor, Patricia Jones, Support Services Supervisor, March 15, 2023, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Skelton, who started working for the Corps in 1973, said the best thing that happened to her in her near 50-year career is the outstanding team members and friends she has met. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

By Chuck Walker

MOBILE, Ala. – In 1973, the Vietnam War was drawing to a close, the Watergate hearings were heating up and Secretariat won the Triple Crown.

And in Aliceville, Alabama a woman named Frances Skelton was beginning her career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Skelton, currently a supply technician for the USACE office in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is beginning the 50th year of her career, the majority of which has been spent working for the Mobile District. And she says each one of those years has been meaningful and wonderful to her.

One person who has been impressed with Skelton is her supervisor Patricia Jones. Jones, Support Services Supervisor in the Tuscaloosa Office, said Skelton is great person with which to work.

“I have witnessed firsthand her attention to detail and devotion to her work, the project and especially the people of the project,” said Jones. “She is never too busy to stop what she is doing and assist someone with a question or issue. She treats the personnel around her like family, not just co-workers and managers. Everyone looks forward to her brining in treats and baked goods to share with all.”

Skelton started her career as a clerk typist at the Aliceville Real Estate Project Office, the office that was responsible for purchasing property for the future Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. In 1979, that office moved to Columbus, Mississippi.

In her USACE career, she has worked in Aliceville, Alabama, Columbus, Mississippi, Fort Rucker, Alabama, Gainesville, Alabama, Fort Gaines, Georgia, Oliver Lock and Dam, Peterson, Alabama and since 2003 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Skelton said that in her time she has seen plenty of changes, culturally and technologically, for her some of those changes have been good, but some have her wishing for simpler times.

“In my career I have seen a large transition in means of correspondence from typing a variety of materials with typewriters, carbon copies and legal descriptions on stencils, to computers and now to the paperless office,” Sketlton said. “I feel in the past District employees worked closer with field employees, even though we now have more means of communicating than we did in the 70’s. It also seems in the past you had a better working relationship and the Corps felt more family oriented than it does now.”

Skelton said that her family has not only shaped who she is and her life but has also provided her with the motivation she has needed to accomplish her goals.

“My family is my biggest source of inspiration,” Skelton said. “My parents were hard workers and that drives me to be more like them. They were self-motivated individuals. My father always taught us to work eight hours for eight hours pay. My husband provides me with calm confidence by encouraging me to step back and look at things in a different perspective to achieve my goals.”

Anthony Perkins, Operational Project Manager of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee, and Alabama River Project Office in Tuscaloosa said Skelton has been a valued employee for years and that her knowledge and skills are still valued.

“Frances is a strong asset to the BWT & AL River Waterways Project with her many years of experience and vast knowledge in support of project administration,” Perkins said. “She is well respected by her peers and is always willing to assist others using her knowledge gained from a long career across various organizations.”

Skelton said working in various offices across the district and being exposed to several jobs throughout her long career served one very important purpose for her, the long-lasting friendships she has forged along the way.

“My 50-year career expands in offices all over the District,” Skelton said. “I have worked in Real Estate, Construction, Hydropower, and Operations. My moves to different offices may have not helped me career-wise in terms of advancement. But, if I hadn’t been to these different field offices, I would never have met some of the most outstanding team members along my journey.