FORT LEE, Va. (April 29, 2010) – “The key to happiness is to love what you’re doing and the people you’re doing it with,” said the honoree during his speech. “And for me, the past 30 years has been one of the greatest love stories of my life.”
The man behind the podium was Lawrence F. Constantine, the outgoing director of Directorate of Public Works. He expressed his thoughts about work and retirement during a luncheon held in his honor at the Lee Club April 15. Constantine contributed 31 years of federal service.
“It’s a new chapter in my life,” he said after the celebration. “I have reservations about going out because I’m going to miss the people. I think we have some of the best people; individuals who will lead us into the future.”
About 200 co-workers, colleagues, family and friends were in attendance at the event to include William Moore, deputy to the commander, Combined Arms Support Command; Col. Michael Morrow commander, U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee; and Command Sergeant Major June Seay, command sergeant major, USAG, Fort Lee.
Constantine, a native of Amsterdam, N.Y., succeeded Greg White in 2007, a critical time during the ongoing Base Realignment and Closure mandate. It called for the construction of more than 35 new structures at Fort Lee – to include a highway crossover bridge – and required DPW to devote considerable resources to their completions.
“Larry’s been a leader through the BRAC transformation – through the planning, the development and execution and the construction,” said Morrow. “He’s worked on over a hundred projects and more than $1.8 billion worth of construction. He’s a total leader who provides selfless service every day. He’s one of my heroes and a hero to all of the folks here at Fort Lee.”
BRAC is just an example of the many challenges Constantine has faced over the years. Among them was the period in which Fort Lee quickly converted itself into a mobilization station for thousands of reserve component Soldiers at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The effort required all of DPW’s might.
“Getting those Soldiers who came from civilian life back into the military and getting them ready to go into harm’s way was one of our greatest accomplishments,” said Constantine. “There was a truck company and two engineer companies who came through, and it was unbelievable that we got all of their equipment (vehicles included) up to fully mission-capable status so they could deploy overseas. That was a great accomplishment.”
Constantine said any accolades that can be attributed to his work, can be attributed to the DPW workforce as a whole.
“I see myself as a conductor of a great symphony,” he said, “and every one of the people who work underneath me plays a different instrument. To have them synchronize all their musical instruments and put on a great concert, I think, is my greatest achievement.”
The “great concert” that Constantine speaks of can be partly attributed to the supportive atmosphere that he helped to nurture at the directorate, said Sgt. Maj. Darvin Taylor, Constantine’s senior enlisted advisor.
“He made everyone feel welcome and part of the family,” he said.
During his farewell speech, Constantine continued to nurture the aspect of family, asking past and present employees to stand, recognizing them as “champions and heroes” and thanking them for “a great career.”
With his federal service career over, Constantine said he’ll start looking at new career prospects and trying to spend more time with his family.
“What I’m going to do is take a couple of months off, spend some time with my granddaughters and my sister up in northern New York, kick back and relax then come back and see what the future holds,” he said.
Constantine and his wife, Patricia, have three children and reside in Chesterfield County.