Graduating from Haywood High School in 1952, I attended Union University in the fall of 1953 before leaving school to join the US Navy. Travels in the Navy took me to Great Lakes Naval Training Facility, Portsmouth, VA Hospital Corps School, Camp Lejune Fleet Marine Training, US Naval Hospital, Millington, TN, Midway, USS Greenwich Bay, NAVHOSP Guam, M. I., and various stations like independent duty at Key West, FL Sub base, Norfolk, VA Shipyard, San Diego, CA and Treasure Island, San Francisco, CA. One of my favorite naval experience was my summer Naval Reserve Cruise that landed me on the USS Greenwich Bay, which has been coined "the white ghost" because of its white paint job for service in the Persian Gulf. I returned to finish Union University in 1962 with a BA in History and Bible. My first post college work was at Methodist Hospital in Memphis, TN where I was an auditor of accounts and facilitator for medical records and patient personnel. I re-entered college to gain my Masters Degree from the University of Memphis and my Doctors Degree finishing in 1975. I have attended post graduate work and seminars at St. Frances College, St. Josephs College, University of Tennessee, BethelCollege and Union University. My teaching experience includes Hardeman county schools, Haywood county schools, St. Frances College, University of Tennessee at Martin, Cumberland University, and Union University. I retired from public schools in 1997, but have taught adjunct classes for several of these schools in the past ten years. Teaching adjunct has allowed me to have a wonderful class of 9 preachers who wanted to learn World Regional Geography at Union and 17 technicians at Jackson General Hospital for St. Francis. Teaching was a joy, but the desire finally floated out to sea for that field as educational methods and ambitions changed.
I am married to Kathryn Smith and she is a former first grade teacher. She is my friend and love.
My bi-vocational life was as a minister to three churches from 1958 until 1980 in Three Way Baptist at the Clarks community in Haywood County, the Fulton Baptist Church in Lauderdale County on the Mississippi River and at Antioch Baptist Church also in Haywood County. I loved my church members and their faithfulness and putting up with this little "jackleg" preacher proved that they loved the Lord through everybody's shortcomings. God bless them all. It has been my prayer that I was instrumental in helping people find the Lord and make a difference in their lives. I believe that my service to those churches increased the capabilities I had while at the same time provided those churches with growth, guidance and attendance increases. My belief was that I needed to visit each and every member on a one to one basis. My duration was 6 years, 9 years and 9 years at each church.
I have toured over 60 countries in 5 continents with over 20 visits to Europe tutoring students. My student tours have shepherded over 300 kids to the continent and got them all back safely. My personal experiences include a camel caravan deep into the Sahara, treks on bike across Europe, a jaunt on the Trans-Siberian Railroad, a TGV train ride from London to Paris, summer medical relief in Vietnam prior to the war, a flight in the navigator's seat on a B58 Hustler, a trans-Pacific Ocean trip in a "Super" Connie, a backpack trip across Glacier National Park, a camping trip of 31 days across the west on the continental divide trail, pre-war tours of Syria, Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq doing some digging and archaeology work. My most enlightening experience was a 21 country jaunt within 19 days on anocean cruise..."believe it or not Ripley." The hottest that I have been is 100 miles out in the desert headed for Timbuktu which was the hottest and driest days of my life in which I got sunburn that permanently scarred the back of my legs and not to mention the rawhide the constant motion of the camel put on the inside of my thighs. Thank goodness, we traveled mostly at dusk and up to about 8 a.m. in the mornings, and rested in tents during the heat of the day which approached 130 degrees. One of the most pleasant trips I've taken is a hiking trail through Glacier at about 9,300 feet. This 4 day trip was on the edge with several encounters with Grizzly bears and spending 8 hours in a tree watching your food being trashed. Before the Arab Israeli conflicts, I was able to visit the "Street Called Straight" found in Damascus Syria where I got the privilege of touring in 1974 with the first group to enter Syria after President Nixon opened up trade and visits to Syria. It appeared to me to be an armed camp with most of the people feeling trapped and imprisoned.
I have always been interested in sports and rather successful in each of those in which I participated. I received 7 letters in high school in track (high jump), baseball (catcher), football, and basketball all 4 years. In College, I tried out for Union's basketball team and made it only to have my days shortened by a knee injury in pre-season practice. Leaving Union after a year, I entered the Navy and played numerous sports there winning trophies in tennis, golf, basketball and softball. Making the all-island team on Guam, M.I., I was picked to play in the Pacific Championships in Hawaii at the U. of Hawaii. In tennis, I won the Captain's trophy at the USNH and won two trophies playing golf in the ComNavMarianas Island Championship. Upon return to college at the University of Memphis, I played summer ball with the 1959 U of M Tigers and remain friends with some of those men from the championship Tigers today. At Union, I lettered in tennis and had the distinction of being undefeated in the regular season play, but lost in the TIAC semi-finals. I coached golf and tennis at Haywood High for 12 years with 3 district titles and 1 regional title. Today since my retirement, a knee partial replacement and arthritic shoulders has hampered by athletic pursuits, and now, my sportsmanship lies in a lounger with the TV changer in either hand. Dust collects on those hard earned honors somewhere in the corners of my attic.
Since I've aged a bit, I have become much more interested in the spiritual aspects of life. Looking across the river of life and death brings a man to his senses quicker than anything on earth. With a near death experience this past year, I became more and more interested in just what "having Christ in you" meant, and I have come to the conclusion that it means inside us is a being who shares our body who offers guidance, hope, help and concern when called upon. My belief is that Christ lives within me, and I as a result should live in Him. Church has become a basic commodity in my life as I volunteered and am serving on my fourth 3 year session as a deacon at Brownsville Baptist Church. For thirty years, I felt that I represented my BBC in small rural churches who needed a pastor, even though I felt that God was calling me to the teacher's lecturn. I am a choir member at BBC and I believe next to the oldest one in the choir, and most certainly the longest serving member since I joined it in 1980. Aside from sickness or vacation, I have not missed a Sunday and believe it is my place to be at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday. I have been chosen to teach the Men's Bible Class, which some call the "graveyard gathering" as most of my class members are in their late 70's or late 80's. They are a challenge to teach as they know their Bible and relish every little tidbit of information about Jesus. Also, I serve as co-ordinator of the LLL's Senior Group (Live Lively Longer). I arrange the schedule, coordinate the meal schedule and plan the fourth Thursday travel session. We have a great group that loves each other's company and are very, very encouraging. This is my final year as a deacon as I feel that youth should take the reins of the congregation and I don't relish being the old foggie on the crew.
Life is fun as I can make it.
Life is what you make it and it's a lot more fun if you make it exciting by seeing theworld. I really want more on my epitaph than just the dash between the date of birth and my death date. Therefore, I hope to have left the world a little better off by my visit of my years. My personal philosophy is "if you don't try you fail automatically, and it is much better to err in trying than to fail by doing nothing." I believe that God judges us evenly on sins of omission as well as commission.
Go with God, and you'll never travel alone.
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