K.D. dancing to her own music!

Karen Demps danced the night away at her retirement party after working close to 34 years at Raytheon Technologies.

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature writer

S.T. PETERSBURG — The night of the last day of March was an absolute blast, with a refreshing display of dancing the night away from Karen Demps (K.D.) in her retirement farewell.

Picture a gleeful beauty dancing in the wind under the stars, finally set free from demanding mornings and rush-hour traffic duties as a hireling servant. The song and dance of 33.7 years at Raytheon Technologies have ended.

K.D. danced to the sounds of Hiram Hazley and his band, “Magic,” with an audience of friends and family at Hammock Hall Banquet room cheering her on. Oh, how it must feel to be free to decide when to get up and when to lie back down.

That night, K.D. put on a full display of charismatic dance moves and laughter with multiple partners. There was the joy of grooving with her youngest son, Josh, who is too young to contemplate such freedom of retirement. Joining her, as usual, was her best friend Charlene, laughing and smiling right along.

But that night belonged to K.D. as she celebrated her retirement.

Maple Williams watched Karen Demps evolve into a mature woman over the past three decades.

“I congratulate Karen on this momentous event of her life,” said Maple S. Williams. “When I met her, she was a young woman who I saw evolve into a mature woman who faced many challenges with dignity and grace. The challenges presented an opportunity to grow in her personal and professional life.

“We have shared so many experiences as co-workers, our holidays, dinners and just downtime, some so funny and others so very serious. It is not often that you meet a Karen Demps that leaves an impression that will last a lifetime.” 

Karen was 25 years old when she started working at Raytheon Technologies, then known as E-Systems, in 1989. She aspired to work in human resources, but no positions were available, so she took a senior clerk position to get her foot in the door.

The following year she was promoted to engineering project clerk, now called administrative assistant. One year later, Williams, who worked in the security department, called and asked, “Do you know anyone that wants to work in security?”

K.D. quickly responded, “Me! I had already prayed and asked God to put me in a more Christ-like atmosphere,” said K.D.

Maple became a mentor, close friend and spiritual guide. Three weeks later, Karen was a security information administrator working at the main front desk for the next three years. Her duties were to verify the identification of vendors and visitors, request background checks on contractors and temporary employees and assist the security staff.

The position exposed K.D. to people from all walks of life: employees and some of their family members, vendors, customers, five-star generals, politicians, etc. She even met NFL Hall of Famer Gayle Sayers, who owned a computer company and wanted to do business with E-Systems.

In 1998, E-Systems became Raytheon, and in her new position as an industrial security specialist, K.D. once had to deny a five-star general access because he needed to submit his proper credentials.

“Management was a little upset with me, but I had to do my job,” said K.D.

In 2020, the company became Raytheon Technologies. Through many growing pains, K.D. admits the merger between Raytheon and United Technologies was the best thing to happen to her while working the entire 33 years.

K.D. expressed enjoying her 30-year career as a security specialist for defense contractors while learning much about the defense industry and its many facets in protecting the warfighter.

“Though I was never lackadaisical about my job responsibilities, after my son, Jaron, joined the navy, my duty became more personal and intense,” she said. I am proud to be part of a security organization that won the coveted James A. Cogswell Award! This is the highest award that the government grants to industry.”

The retirement revealed so many family memories, such as Earline Gilbert, who enjoyed watching J.D. grow up since she was six years old, start her career and now her retirement.

And Dorothea Jennings, an older sister who lives in Tampa, joined the celebration.

“If you ever say that you are bored, it means you’re afraid to try something new,” said Jennings, referring to K.D.’s fearlessness regarding life’s adventures.

The love in the room was palpable as K.D. celebrated and danced all night long.

“I will never ever forget it, and I’m so grateful and humbled,” said K.D. “My mother always told me love is as love does. I truly felt the love.”

2 Replies to “K.D. dancing to her own music!”

  1. Brenda Mims Martin Foster says:


    1. Karen Demps says:

      Thank you Brenda!

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