South Georgia Technical College honors three retirees

December 12, 2019
South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford (Center back) is shown above with retirees: Done E. Smith, Diana Skipper and Phil Deese.
South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford (Center back) is shown above with retirees: Done E. Smith, Diana Skipper and Phil Deese.

   South Georgia Technical College honored three valuable employees who have impacted student success for over half a century through their faithful service. They were recognized during the South Georgia Technical College Faithful Service Awards reception held in the John M. Pope Industrial Technology Center on the Americus campus recently.

   Industrial Systems and Industrial Mechanical Systems Technology Instructor Phil Deese, Medical Assisting Instructor Diana Skipper and Special Assistant to the President Don E. Smith have all announced their intention to retire effective December 31, 2019.  Together they have served the students of this community for over 50 years in their respective positions.

    “On behalf of everyone at South Georgia Technical College, it is my privilege to offer each of you our heart-felt congratulations on a job well-done,” said South Georgia Technical College President Dr. John Watford.  “Each of you has been critical to the success of the college and to the students that you have served.  We will certainly miss you but we wish you continued success in your next chapter.”

    Phillip Matthew Deese began working as a full-time technical instructor at South Georgia Technical College in 2007.  He brought over 22 years of practical experience in the Industrial Systems and Industrial Mechanical fields.  He worked as the Plant Maintenance Manager at Fame Plastics in Cumming, GA and Daytona Beach, FL for four years before moving to Americus where he was the Maintenance Supervisor for Textron and Collins & Aikman for 18 years.  He is also a veteran.  He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart.

Deese studied at Macomb College – Marketing and Fluid Power Technology and attended Georgia Southwestern State University where he studied Automated Manufacturing.

    “We greatly appreciate Phil’s service to our country and to our students,” said President Watford. “He is one of the sincerest instructors that I know.  He is always willing to help and worked diligently to impact the success of his students.”

   “I have certainly enjoyed my time here,” said Phil Deese.  “I have made some great friends, but the best thing about this job has been the students.  I enjoy hearing from the students when they have gotten a great job.  We all do a lot of bragging about our students.  That is what we are here for, to help students and help them enter the workforce.  Thank you so much for everything.  I have enjoyed my years here and being able to share those with each of you,” added Deese as he spoke to his fellow workers.

   Diana Skipper is retiring from full-time service at South Georgia Technical College with over 21 years of service to students as a Medical Assisting Instructor.  She brought over 24 years of nursing experience to her position at South Georgia Technical College.  She worked as a nurse at Sumter Regional Hospital, as well as at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Athens Regional Hospital, and Sumter Regional Hospital again before leaving to work as the Assistant Branch Manager for the Visiting Nurses Association and as a Nursing Supervisor for the Visiting Nurses Association.

   Diana Skipper is married to Jimmy Skipper and they have four grown children.  She was only the second medical assisting instructor hired at South Georgia Technical College and her program has been one of the largest at the college.

    “Diana Skipper fell in love with teaching and training students, but because of the love that she had for the patients they would serve, she was not going to let the students graduate from this program unless she was certain they had the knowledge to give proper care to those patients,” said President Watford.  “She is sharp as a razor and very dedicated to her students and what she does.  South Georgia Technical College and our students have benefited from those qualities for the past 21 years and she will be missed.”

    “I love this place and I love my students,” said Diana Skipper after Dr. Watford presented her with a plaque for her 21 years of faithful service.  “This place is powerful because we teach, graduate, and put our students to work.  People that didn’t have a future, have a future now because of what we do.”

   Don E. Smith was the third member of the SGTC Faculty and Staff to announce his retirement at the end of December.  He has served as the Special Assistant to the President since 2000 and has worked for three different Presidents.  He is married to Sybil Smith and they have two sons, Franklin Smith and Byran Hamrick and one granddaughter, Hadley Hamrick.

    He also came to South Georgia Tech with real world work experience.  He worked in Barlow County Government as a County Clerk/Administrator/Community Development Director before moving to Americus.  In his time in Americus he worked as the Employee Relations Manager/Safety & Training Manager and then with Lockheed Martin as the Human Resources Manager.

   “Don Smith was a proponent of technical education before he ever came to be employed by South Georgia Technical College,” said President Watford.  “He served on the SGTC Board of Directors and spoke to the State Legislature on behalf of technical education before he joined the college full-time.

    “You will not find anyone more dedicated to South Georgia Technical College than Don Smith.  His footprints are all over this college.  He has probably worn out a lot of shoes walking this campus.  Once you give Don a project, he will not let it go until it is completed.  We owe a lot to Don and our students owe a lot to him.”

    After Dr. Watford’s comments, Don came forward and thanked his family for being his foundation and then he thanked all the employees who had been such a large part of his life for the past 20 years.

    “Everything that we were able to accomplish in the past 20 years, we accomplished because we were a team,” said Smith.  “I take great pride in being able to work on different projects and be able to leave footprints across the college, but as proud as I am of those footprints, I couldn’t be more proud of the people who work at South Georgia Technical College.  What we do or you do here at South Georgia Tech is absolutely amazing.  We have made a difference in the lives of students.”

    “I know each of us are inspired by what Phil, Diana, and Don have done and said here today,” said Dr. Watford.  “I believe that they have inspired us and challenged us to do even more.   I am proud to have worked with each of them and I proud of the good people that we have employed at South Georgia Tech.  Congratulations to each and every one of you and best wishes for the future.”