The story goes that the kids were on the way to school when my grandmother gave birth 98 years ago. My dad entered this world on Lucky Street in downtown Atlanta. World War I had just ended, and the great depression was only a decade away. By the time his twenties rolled around, he dropped out of Clemson, moved to Atlanta, started a four-decade plus relationship with Georgia Power, and joined the Navy to fight in World War II.
Children learn from their parents and I certainly learned from mine. Just about anywhere I go, I run into someone I know. This was always happening to my dad – even long after he retired – while I was growing up. When I get stopped while out-and-about, I smile. I am my father’s daughter and I learned the lesson from him to stop and listen to those around you. My dad touched so many lives because he talked to people, he got to know them. I like to think a little of that is seen in me.
My dad treated people with respect regardless of their gender, race or economic level. The women who worked with my dad had their own retirement party for him. I’m sure an HR representative would have a fit now-a-day, but it was my dad who moved women into management positions where they weren’t before. The story goes that my dad put one of his female employees up for a position that had always been held by men. She tried to get him to withdraw her form contention because she didn’t want to cause trouble for my dad. My dad wouldn’t hear of it, and in the end, she got the job. If you ever wonder why I believe women can do anything, look no further than my father. He treated women as women with respect and appreciation.
My dad also taught me the lesson of life-long service to community. The community my father frequently chose was his Georgia Power family. Until the very last years of his life, he was volunteering and helping out on retiree and company employee projects. For several decades after he retired, he was the handyman at the Georgia Power Family House, a house where families with people in Northside hospitals could stay during extended times. He was out there at least once a week fixing something or taking care of the yard. Someone once commented to a Georgia Power employee about how friendly and helpful the handyman was at the family house. He was rather aghast to find out the ‘handyman’ was a retired Vice President of Plant Construction. Along with teaching me service to community, he taught the lesson of being humble and though I’ve been told my dad bragged about me, he never bragged about himself. Bonus lesson, if you always treat people kindly, you don’t have to worry about the fact the handyman was a former VP and didn’t tell you.
There are more lessons I learned from the man born on Lucky Street, but I shall save them for another day. Needless to say, he was amazing and improved the lighting in a room just by being in it. He was and always shall be my Tiger.
A senior lecturer of marketing at Kennesaw State University, Tyra is a gamer-girl, gadget geek at heart.