A familiar face at Fort St. Jean Baptiste is hanging up his colonial hat after 23 years working as an interpretive ranger at the State Historic Site. A party was held in his honor Nov. 30 with his family, co workers and friends from around the community.
Tommy Adkins started working as an interpretive ranger in 1997, sharing his knowledge of history with visitors who came to Natchitoches to discover its background and culture.
“Tommy will be greatly missed,” said Site Manager Justin French. “He’s trained generations of historians and he’s been a mentor to me through the years. He’s taught me every colonial skill I know, local history and so much more.”
As an ambassador for the fort to the City and the State, Tommy has been a face of Natchitoches tourism for decades.
“He’s entertained a number of groups, dozens of travel writers and even assisted the Counsul Generals from France, Canada and Spain as they toured the oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase,” said Arlene Gould, executive director for the Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Tommy has always been a great asset to Natchitoches, ensuring everyone has a wonderful experience learning about the fort through his eyes.”
For Tommy, his retirement is bittersweet.
“It’s easy to retire from a job that’s nothing more than a paycheck,” he said. “It’s harder when it’s a job you love and I love everything about my job. I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with many different people and agencies over the years. This is what I was meant to do.”
Through it all, Tommy said his favorite part is the people that came to the fort from the local area, states across the country, and even around the world to listen to his interpretations, and getting to learn their individual stories in return.