Center Snapshot - Kim Stone
Kim Stone.
Image above: Office of Procurement Director Kim Stone. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.

By: Jim Hodges

The door is shut to the office in Building 1195. Kim Stone is going into hyperdrive for August and September – for the final time.

Like the spring for a tax accountant, late summer is prime time in NASA Langley Procurement, which Stone has led for the past nine years. "It's the time to make sure all of the money gets spent in preparation for starting a new fiscal year," Stone says. "If you haven't spent it this year, goes the logic, you might not get what you need next year."

In Procurement, it's a sprint to a finish. For Stone, the finish is literal. She retires on September 30 after 32 years of federal employment.

"I'll probably come back and cook on October 1," she says of the tradition at Procurement in which managers make breakfast for the rest of the staff the day after the fiscal year is closed. "I'll make my obligatory potato casserole."

With Stone, it's just a start toward retirement.

"I love to cook," she says.

Particularly Asian and Cajun, which indicate that Stone is into flavor in whatever she cooks.

She's also into travel. And work in her garden at Gloucester Point. And, most important of all, work with animals, though she'll never be able to replace "Buddy," a Catahoula that she lost two years ago at age 14. She still has "Buddy's" picture in her office.

"Everybody over here (in Procurement) is into animals," Stone says.

Her job now is a far cry from where her government career began. "I started as a warehouseman, box cutter and all," she says, laughing, as she does easily. "I had a degree in political science (from the University of Pittsburgh), and I was thinking about going to law school, like about 50 million other people who were thinking about going to law school."

Instead, she worked a year as the only woman on a warehouse crew primarily made up of recently mustered out Vietnam veterans until a government service job came along that appealed to her.

Years later, she worked a year on Capitol Hill in Washington in the Office of Personnel Management's Legis Fellows program. "It was a great experience and I am still fascinated by the political process, but I'd probably make a lousy politician," Stone says. " Not enough patience."

Her career with NASA has taken her to a job in headquarters and another with Stennis Space Center in Mississippi before Stone came to Langley nine years ago.

In Washington, she had a range of interests. "I had season tickets to the Washington Capitals hockey team and the ballet at Kennedy Center in the same year," she says.

At Stennis, she was close enough to New Orleans to appreciate the city's restaurants and learn to cook its cuisine.

At Langley, she got the job she wanted for years and talked husband Les into a sidestep. "He said we were working our way toward Key West (at Stennis), but then we came back (in moving to Langley)," she says.

In two months – make that a hard two months – they can head south again, to visit her family in Florida. And west, to see his family in Texas. And farther west, to see places she has yet to see.

It's an exciting time for Kim Stone -- or it will be after she's finished her two-month sprint to retirement.