125 Years of Family Serving Family — Shirley Williams, Fort Jackson


One in a series honoring the Exchange’s 125 years of family serving family.

Much has changed at the Fort Jackson Exchange since Shirley Williams joined the team in 1970.

Back then, the main store had yet to be built. She sold towels, dishes and other home goods at an Exchange housewares store on the installation. There were also separate stores for clothing and shoes.

Fort Jackson Command Sgt. Maj. Algrish Williams helped honor her for her decades of service during December ceremony at the main store.

Shirley Williams started her 40-year career with the Exchange in 1979, paused it for a decade, then resumed it as a cashier at Fort Jackson.

Early in her career, she also worked in the cashiers cage and accounting. Back then, “We had to add everything ourselves,” she said. “We didn’t have computers.”

She also enjoyed her days staffing the jewelry department.

In 1979, Williams left the Exchange to pursue a degree in public affairs and communications at Columbia College. For six years, she worked for the state of South Carolina while attending evening classes. She ultimately retired from the state after 30 years as a licensed social worker.

A decade later, she returned to the Fort Jackson Exchange and resumed her career as a cashier before moving to the shoe department, where she has spent most of the last 30 years.

“I have good relationships with the customers,” she said.

Common Orris agrees. The Fort Jackson Exchange main store manager said Williams “enjoys taking care of Soldiers and serving the best customers in the world. Shirley takes pride in ensuring that the shoe department is always well-stocked and organized so that it is easy for shoppers to find the items they want and need. We’re fortunate to have someone with such boundless energy and dedication on our team.”

Williams’ family has strong ties to the military. Her husband served in the Army for 30 years, and her son has served for 12 years. Her daughter retired from the Army and now works at the Pentagon, while her grandson recently graduated from Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning.

Although she had intended to retire last year and travel, Williams said those plans are on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She aims to remain on the job at the Exchange for as long as possible.

“My daughter constantly reminds me, `Mom, that’s not your store. It’ll go on if you’re not there,’ but I enjoy it,” she said.

Facebook-friendly version: Shirley Williams has spent all of her 40-year Exchange career at Fort Jackson, starting by selling housewares and continuing as a cashier and later moving to the shoe department.

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