GPA retirees have combined 517 years of service


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From left, Director of Container Operations Shannon Schurman, Betty Ann Rappe, Chief Operating Officer Ed McCarthy and Executive Director Griff Lynch celebrate Rappe’s 53 years of service in January.

Longtime employees reflect on growth, change

As the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2020, many recent retirees are reflecting on the growth and change they’ve witnessed over the years.

Betty Ann Rappe started her career at GPA in 1967, just two years after the first container moved across the docks in Savannah. Rappe, who retired in January after 53 years of service, also recalled a time when employees navigated Garden City Terminal by bicycles and golf carts.

Rappe said seeing GPA come together as a team and expand the horizons of the port is something in which she takes great pride. “To watch all that happen while you’re there, it was fantastic,” Rappe said.

Rappe is one of a dozen GPA employees who have retired recently with more than 40 years of service. These recent retirees have a combined tenure of 517 years across several departments and facilities.

“The dedication of our recent GPA retirees is astounding,” said Lise Altman, Chief Human Resources Officer. “We express our gratitude not just for their years of service, but also their commitment to ensuring the ports fuel Georgia’s economy for future generations.”

Bill Dawson, former general manager of operations, Brunswick and barge facilities, retired in August with 42 years of service. Dawson oversaw the delivery of the 1987 Yugoslavian-manufactured Yugo — the first vehicle to cross the docks of what is now the second-busiest autoport in the nation.

“It was especially rewarding to be part of so much of the growth in Brunswick. It’s just a pleasure to have been part of it,” Dawson said. ““It was a great ride and an incredible opportunity, because GPA is a wonderful place to work.”

Former Global Manager of Bulk, Ro/Ro and General Cargo Bill Jakubsen spent 43 years in Trade Development promoting GPA’s services at the deepwater terminals in Brunswick and Savannah and the inland terminal in Bainbridge. Jakubsen, who retired in August, said each of the five executive directors he served under has taken the GPA to new heights. He noted Colonel’s Island is now the largest Ro/Ro terminal in the U.S. in land mass at 1,700 acres, of which 500 acres is permitted and still available for development.

“Working with the port has been like working with family, because it is a team that works closely together to accomplish the mission at hand,” Jakubsen said. “For the entire time I have been employed at GPA, we have had unwavering support from the governors of the state of Georgia, GPA Board members and our many maritime partners.”

Rosa Simmons began as a clerk typist in 1976 and retired in August as human resources manager. Simmons said it’s hard to believe that the little port in Garden City is now the fastest-growing terminal in the country. She said GPA’s reputation reaches far beyond the state’s borders as individuals from across the country apply for open positions.

“I have seen many, many changes over the years and I am so proud of what the Georgia Ports Authority has become,” Simmons said. “I will always tell people that this a great place to work and how they have taken care of me and my family.”

Calendar Year 2020 Retirees (40-plus years of service)

  • Rodney Baldwin, Container Operations, 40 years
  • Steven Bieberbach, Crane Operations, 44 years
  • Eddie Cook, Container Operations, 40 years
  • Bill Dawson, Brunswick Operations, 42 years
  • Suzanne Faust, Port Police, 43 years
  • Jeff Hagan, Ocean Terminal, 43 years
  • Shirley Hardin, Human Resources and Benefits, 40 years
  • Wilbert Hurst, Container Operations, 41 years
  • William Jakubsen, Trade Development, 43 years
  • Craig Kessler, Ocean Terminal, 44 years
  • Betty Ann Rappe, Container Operations, 53 years
  • Rosa Simmons, Human Resources and Benefits, 44 years