Halloween is a milestone for Mr. Bertram Wilson of Pender County DSS. October 31, 1978 is the day he started working for Pender County, so it seems fitting that October 31 is also when Mr. Wilson retires after a lifetime of faithful service. If you do the math, that is 41 years of employment in Pender County!
He started working for Pender County all those years ago, through a grant called the Cedar Program. This work was the predecessor to the Recreation Department that we see today, as there was no Recreation Department in Pender County. The larger counties had Recreation Departments and the grant was designed to try to start one in Pender County. After the Cedar Program grant ran out, Mr. Wilson was hired as an Income Maintenance Worker. Although his father had worked in Social Services, he never really had an interest in following in his father’s footsteps. As it sometimes happens, Mr. Wilson ended up in a lifelong career that was unexpected.
When I asked Mr. Wilson if he could describe his long, distinguished career in one word, he answered, EXCITING! He said that working in Social Services definitely has its ups and downs. The reunification of a family that he worked with for 5 years ranks at the top of his list of happiest experiences while at Pender County DSS.
I asked Mr. Wesley Stewart, Director of Pender County DSS for his thoughts on Mr. Wilson and he said the following.
“Bert was the longest tenured employee of the Department of Social Services, and with his retirement a great deal of institutional knowledge will be lost. Bert served as one of my Foster Care Supervisor’s and went well beyond what was required to get the job done for which I will always be grateful. Bert always stood out as an example of someone who greatly cared about his staff, this agency and the citizens of Pender County. It has been my pleasure to work with Mr. Bertram Wilson over the course of the last two and a half years and he will be missed!”
Mr. Wilson is very involved with his church, St. John Missionary Baptist Church of Wallace and will use his new found free time working with the church on their various outreach projects. Along with his church activities, he enjoys spending time with his 10 year old grandson, La’sean, who is in his care. Through the years Mr. Wilson has been a foster parent to teenage children because he knows, through his work with Pender County, that these are the most difficult placements to make.
Mr. Wilson said that he may try to do some fishing and farming which are two activities he used to enjoy but hasn’t had much time for lately. Fun fact; Mr. Wilson worked on his family’s farm raising chickens and selling eggs to pay for college!
When asked what his dream vacation is, Mr. Wilson said that he may decide to take a dream cruise one day. His dream trip? Driving across the United States, embarking on a cruise from Washington State, cruising to Alaska then from there to Hawaii!
I asked Mr.Wilson if there was a particular colleague over the years who had inspired him. He remembered Blondell Tucker who was his first supervisor at DSS for 3 years. He also had kind words about Mr. Stewart, stating that Mr. Stewart is always seeking ways to make Pender County DSS run as efficiently as possible.
When asked what he would miss most and least about working, Mr. Wilson said, without pause, “I will miss the people the most and the deadlines the least!”
Finally when asked for any words of wisdom he could leave us with, he said “Do your best and always be proud and committed.” Wise words from a role model for all Pender County employees.
Enjoy your retirement Mr. Wilson!