Class Of 1964 USAF Academy


us250.jpg I came to the Academy from Mobile, AL for primarily the wrong reason, and ended up by now telling everyone that asks that it was the second best decision of my entire life (the first being marrying my wife Nan, now of 45 years, whom I would not have met had I not gone to the Academy).  So by going there it must have been THE best decision of my life! With competitive appointments to USAFA, Annapolis, and West Point---thanks to my Congressman who allowed the Academies to rank the candidates--- and never one to procrastinate, I chose Air Force at 11:40PM on the final day to decide! The rest is history as they say!

Coach Spear made me one the lucky guys to play for him---a great experience—and although I was never Division 1 talent, I helped on defense. The training tables saved my life as well. Thanks to some very dedicated teachers earlier in my life I was better prepared for academics than many of our class and ended up with the star and wreath for all but my first semester ---where I was still trying to figure out the system! I loved intramurals when I opted out of basketball—broke my right ankle—and generally enjoyed life after the first couple of years. Ingram and I roomed together on Group Staff---my first encounter with a Louisiana “coon-ass”---we had a great time---primarily away from base. Thought I was headed to law school after graduation until Vietnam broke out and my academic leave of absence was cancelled (also a God send as it turned out)--- I ended up at Reese AFB for UPT---a great place to learn to fly, and we all came away able to make crosswind landings with the best of them.

Most importantly I met Nan while at Reese! After a rocky start (she was dating one of my instructors) she agreed to be my bride and we got married right before P.I.T. at James Connelly began. I'm not sure she ever knew my rank, much less date of rank, so it was difficult for her to line up for the Base Commander's Wife's affairs at the three bases where we were stationed!! There were not too many O.S moments as an Instructor---but when they happened they were quite exciting. The one that stands out is when one of my Egyptian students (one of General Nasser's nephews) shut off both engines as a part of a spin recovery! After almost 1800 hours of instructor time and a 2 year stint as head of T-37 academics back at Reese, I was headed to Vietnam in the front seat of an F-4 when a pilot “bubble” appeared. Long story short, after a few conversations with the Colonel in charge of rated personnel at Randolph AFB, I was out of the Air Force and on to business school.

After getting my MBA I went to work for IBM. Interestingly, immediately after our marriage, counting 4 years in the AF and 4 years with IBM, we made six household moves. In total we made 17 moves as a couple ending up in 1992 in Denver. After leaving IBM I began a series of CEO jobs that took us all over, culminating in a Fortune 500 Chairman and CEO position---Revere Corporation, known for Revere Ware cookware, but mostly large metal operations, several offshore. We were acquired in a hostile take-over, and after a short transition I took a few months off to travel and kick-back before starting into the LBO and Venture Capital world, where I have continued until this day. We have had a lot of successes, and some not so successful events as well, but overall we have been extremely blessed!

Along the way Nan and I have reared two great sons, one a PhD in American Literature (and now an organic farmer in Montana) and the other an International MBA (who is now a developer and builder in Durango, CO.) We have a daughter-in-law who still occasionally competes as a professional cyclist at age 38 (came in 5th out of some 1000 riders in New Zealand in 2010) with two remarkable grand-sons, and a new significant other who teaches yoga and does Thai massage therapy!

Nan now serves on too many not-for-profit boards, as do I, and I am still firmly engaged in the business world, but we manage to do a great number of things together---which is one reason we have had such a rich life together!!! We still ski, both downhill and Nordic, we play golf---sometimes well---we bike, both road and mountain, hike, fly fish as often as possible, and travel a great deal---Russia and Mexico in 2010 and China and France in 2011, God willing! We both belong to great book clubs and try to stay current and involved in Denver and Colorado affairs.

As I write this I have no really critical regrets---though there is very much I would have strived to improve upon if I had been given a number of “mulligans” along the way!
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