James Luckett always wanted to work outdoors.
As a 16-year-old, he began a job cutting grass at the Puller Center in Gloucester, which later became ARC and today is VersAbility Resources.
Forty-seven years later, James is retiring from the nonprofit that empowers people with disabilities. VersAbility recently recognized his years of dedicated service at its Amethyst Award Celebratory Dinner. Within the next few weeks, James will be presented a customized sterling silver ring with an amethyst stone in the middle as a thank you for his years of service. A ring he can proudly wear for years to come, serving as a proud reminder of his time with VersAbility.
For all but those early months, James has been part of the grounds crew at Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, where he does it all, said his supervisor Rhonda Walton.
“He’s like a son to me; I don’t know what I’m going to do without him,” she said. “He’s my righthand man.”
James and the crew mow 150 acres a week, and he’s precise in every aspect of the job. He operates all the equipment, maintains it and repairs it when needed. James credits his original supervisor, Isaac Addington, for showing him the ropes and building his confidence.
“He taught me how to change the oil, put belts on, change blades and so much more,” James said. “He taught us how to do detailed work and to take pride in what we do. I was so happy to have a job so I could support myself.”
Thanks to that career, James was able to buy his own home with his wife, Charlotte Jean, whom he recently lost after 39 years of marriage. They raised three children, now adults. His eldest son, James II owns Dixie Tree Service in Hampton, where his father plans to help out after retiring at the end of July. James really looks forward to spending time with his three grandchildren, too.
“I never thought of ever leaving my job because it allowed me the opportunity to support my family,” he says. “At the same time, I’ve loved working here.”