The doors opened to Cherokee Bingo Outpost in Roland in late 1990, and Bobbi Hood was there. She was also there earlier this year when that same casino in Roland broke ground on a new, $80 million facility. The time she's spent with the company came to a close last Wednesday, as Hood, a Cherokee citizen, spent her last day with the company and friends she's made through the years.
"I plan to spend a lot of time at home with my new grandbaby before my rheumatoid arthritis gets worse," said Hood. "My husband has never seen him, so this will be a big month for many reasons."
Hood typically spends her lunch break in her office Skyping with Kenneth, her husband who is stationed at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Both husband and wife are known for their dedication to their work and family. The two have been married for 25 years, his service with the military trumping even that number--32 years next July.
Retiring as revenue audit associate, Bobbi will continue Skyping with Kenneth from home until he returns from Afghanistan Dec. 19.
"It's been my pleasure to know and work with Bobbi for the past 17 years. She's been a great employee and friend to all of us and will be greatly missed," said Shawn Slaton, CNE chief executive officer. "We wish her the best of luck and health with her retirement. And, Bobbi, please don't be a stranger; stay in touch with us, your other 'family'. "
During her retirement party, co-workers let the tears flow as each stepped up to tell stories of her time at Cherokee Nation Entertainment.
Over the years, Hood has seen the company transform into an economic engine for the area, hiring more than 24,000 employees since she was first hired, and was a major player in early development of the very first Cherokee gaming establishment.
"I've loved watching the changes that have been made within the company during my time here. It's been very beneficial to our citizens," said Hood. "It it weren't for our casinos, we wouldn't have the quality health care, internships, schools, social programs and careers we're able to offer. All three of my children have worked for our tribe, along with my mom and aunt."
Cherokee Nation Entertainment has transitioned from a small bingo outpost to electronic gaming and horse racing, with additional ventures in hospitality, information technology, personnel services, distribution, manufacturing, telecommunications, environmental services, and security and defense industries.
"I think I'll miss the people most," said Hood, a native of Sallisaw. "Seeing them every day and hearing about their families...after all the years, we're basically family ourselves. I'll miss all of that."
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