Gulfstream’s longest-serving employee, community service leader retires after 53 years

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — After 53 years, Gulfstream Aerospace’s longest-tenured employee has now retired.

At just 17 years old, Al Wright started with the company on Aug. 21, 1967. He’d graduated high school just three months prior to starting his career.

Throughout his time at Gulfstream, serving as a community leader consistently brought added purpose to Wright’s life, he says.

“So much was given to me, and there were so many people that helped me along the way,” Wright told WSAV NOW during an interview at the Frank Callen Boys and Girls Club, where Wright has volunteered his time to helping others. He currently serves on the club’s board.

“During these 53 years of working at Gulfstream, it was not just me doing it myself; of course, there was God, who led and guided me to do these things, but he put people in my path to help me to be able to do these things,” Wright shared. 

“So I’m thinking that the same way it was given to me, I should be giving back to the community, and those are the things that I’m pretty passionate about,” he said. “I’ve been passionate about it since I started doing it at Gulfstream.”

Wright has devoted time and effort to a number of organizations, including Girl Scouts and Gulfstream’s Student Leadership Program, which he says he’s been involved with since its inception 13 years ago.

He says he’s also helped feed the homeless with Emmaus House, worked as a certified tour guide for the City of Savannah and participated in local beach cleanups.

“[We] go down to Tybee and pick up all the cigarette butts, because we need to protect our environment,” Wright said. “I’ll be doing more things like that [during retirement].”

Last year, the longtime Gulfstream employee assisted with loading up a truck full of goods to be transported to Florida and then to the Bahamas for Hurricane Dorian victims.

Wright says as he enters the first phase of his retirement, he plans to continue making community volunteering a priority. 

“We’ve worked with the city on cleaning up houses and helping the elderly,” Wright said. “There’s just so many things like that that I could still get involved in, and I invite people who know me to help volunteer.”

He says for those looking to jumpstart their own community involvement, he suggests checking out United Way’s volunteer opportunities.

They have a major website that you could go to that talks about all of the volunteer events, not just in the City of Savannah, but in surrounding counties as well,” Wright said.

As he looks forward to his retirement years, he says he’s excited to continue imparting his own wealth of knowledge to younger generations of volunteers.

“We more seasoned adults have a lot of history behind us, and these are some of the things we can share with young people to get them to see how valuable they are in a community, but they have to make the effort,” Wright said.

He shares the three R’s he often shares with the youth: respect, resilience and remembrance.

“Respect will take you a long way,” Wright said. “Resilience: there are gonna be bumps in the road, ups and downs, but you keep pushing, you keep getting up, you keep doing it, because you’ll get to the end where you can see, as they say, the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Remembrance, Wright adds, is all about not forgetting where one comes from. 

“That will be the thing that will help sustain you as you’re going through your future, that there will be people, there will be opportunities which will help you along the way, as long as you remember that,” he said. “That’ll keep you on the straight path.”

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