When Marie Roberts Waters walks away from her desk at Dabbs, Hickman, Hill & Cannon, LLP on Dec. 31, she will have logged in 50 years and some change with the accounting firm. Turning 82 in March, Waters began working for Earl Dabbs, now retired, on Sept. 11, 1967.
Reluctant to retire even now and with no current plans, Waters said, “When my sister retired from the sugar refinery, she said, ‘You’ll know when it’s time.’ At my age, I just feel like it’s time. I’m not as fast as I used to be and my memory’s not quite as good.”
Waters praised her place of employment for the past 50 years and said, “I’m thankful they let me work this long; they’ve been very supportive.”
When asked how she stayed with one company for so long, Waters was quick to respond: “I just love what I do. I work with good people. There’s nothing I dislike about my job. Some things I’d rather do than others, but there’s none I don’t like. I can say I’ve always had good bosses.”
The bosses have changed over the years, as often happens in accounting firms when partners relocate or branch out on their own. Waters actually met her first boss, Earl Dabbs, though he is quick to point out that he “considered them working together,” when both worked at Rockwell Manufacturing after she married her high school sweetheart.
Marie Roberts met Thomas Waters, also from Nevils, at a peanut boiling while both were in high school. She and classmates had the distinction of being one of the last classes to complete all twelve grades in one school, Nevils High School, in 1954.
After Marie and Thomas married, she worked briefly at Minkovitz Department Store in downtown Statesboro and also took a business course at Georgia Southern.
“That’s when I decided I wanted to keep books,” she said.
For eight years, Waters worked at Rockwell.
“I first met Marie at Rockewell,” Dabbs said, “and she was very efficient, highly loyal to the people in her department and the company. I always said if I ever went into practice, I would hire her.”
Earl Dabbs keeps his promise
Dabbs left Rockwell and worked with the IRS in Atlanta for a time, and when he returned to Statesboro, he made good on his promise.
“She was loyal to me and the firm and the people she worked with,” Dabbs said. “Her character was impeccable – loyal, intelligent, practiced her Christian faith, an ideal person overall. I was very fortunate for her to be able to work at my firm.”
Partner Billy Hickman said, “From the time that I began with the firm in July of 1974, Marie has always been a person who makes you feel good every morning. She is always positive, upbeat and concerned for others.”
Hickman called Marie the “face of the firm” and said, “When people think of Dabbs, Hickman, Hill & Cannon, LLP, they think of Marie.”
Hickman reminisced that he was 21 when he began with the firm and said, “She raised me. She has helped us raise our children, and she is helping us raise our grandchildren by her positive influence. She is the most genuine person I know with unbelievable energy and willingness to work.”
Partner Edwin Hill had similar comments: “To work in a profession for 50 years is unique and requires a unique person like Marie. Marie is reliable, responsible, self-disciplined and hardworking. She is respectful to our clients and other members of our firm, and she is respected by our clients and firm members. She is a gracious lady and has impeccable honesty and integrity.”
Hill said the firm will miss her “pleasant spirit, experience, infectiously positive attitude, advice and counsel.”
Donna Jones, administrative assistant at the firm, agreed and admitted that she will most likely miss her the most, as their desks are just a couple of feet apart just inside the entrance to the building.
“I’ve known her all my life because we’re distantly related,” Jones said, “but it’s been such a pleasure to work with her and be around her. I’m going to miss her sense of humor and her honesty and her work ethics.”
Jones laughed and said that Waters believes if you’re on time for work, that you’re late. Waters is the first to arrive at the office every day. Of Waters’ discussion of her age, Jones laughed again and said, “She still works circles around us.”
That work ethic spilled over in her children’s lives, too. Marie and Thomas had two boys, Mike Waters, who farms in Nevils, and Marty Waters, Evans County School Superintendent.
“I don’t ever remember Mama being out of work,” Marty Waters said. He remembered that Marie missed two months when his dad, Thomas, was ill before passing away in 1998, but prior to that, Marie had missed only a handful of work days.
Mike Waters said, “Granddaddy always said that a good name in life would carry you further than all the riches would. I think Mama has lived her life by that.”
Sons Mike and Marty, other family members and friends are hosting a retirement celebration in her honor at Trinity Baptist Church in Nevils, where Marie Waters has faithfully served as the treasurer for so many years that she says she doesn’t even remember how long she’s held that position. Friends are encouraged to join the celebration from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10.