Even though this is just a story about the first years of my life, and I am only writing it for you, my children, I do want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank a few people.
First, my parents. Everything that is positive in the following pages, and in my life as a whole, is because of their advice and direction. The mistakes you’ll read about were all a result of my drifting away from their advice and teaching. Never did a son have parents who lived what they taught in their public and private lives more than I did.
Then, my brother and sisters. We played, fought, built, destroyed, climbed to the top of trees, dug holes to the bottom of China and had about the most fun playing together as any kids could have. Each of them, and especially Lottie since she was oldest, shaped the person I am today.
Also, my teachers at church and school. They all pushed, begged, beat or patiently nudged me in the direction I needed to go. Because of their time and interest in me, my life turned out much better than it could have.
Finally, to a few people who took time to shape my life. Uncle John, Gary Hill, Coach Fitzwater, Mrs. Blaylock, Lee Kanakis, Charlie Miller, Paula Bogart, Stan Reihn, Bill Berry, Bob Ingold, Paul Casey, Coach Dixon, and Coach DeClue, all took time to offer me help and advice. They were not my parents or teachers but they took an interest and helped me with big decisions in life. They deserve none of the responsibility for my mistakes and much of the credit for my successes.
This book would never have been printed if not for the advice and help of an editor like Rob Bignell. He checked my spelling, improved my grammar and guided me through the formatting and printing processes. He was great to work with, and it turned out he was also a Green Bay Packers fan!
I also want to thank Nanda Olney for reading and editing the manuscript. Her ability to fix my many spelling and grammatical errors will make turning the pages of these memories much easier for the reader. Stacy Dohogne Lane did a wonderful job of interpreting my hard to read draft that was written on ship. Her ability to decipher those rough notes gave me a wonderful first copy to work from.
I decided to write this book back in 1993 while reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography and trying to write a book about my dad. Dr. Franklin wrote a book for his children so they could learn some lessons about life and avoid his mistakes. I’m not Ben Franklin, but I hope this helps you as well.
Our friendship with Bill and Judy Jetton really grew during our high school years. We lived in the same community, attended the same high school and the same church. We were very involved in our church youth group, sang in the church choir and high school concert choir together. We double dated and spent a lot of time at each other’s homes.
We are thankful to have had great parents who took us to church. Our pastor, Milton Elmore, played a major role in molding our spiritual lives while growing up. Our youth leaders and the young married class leaders were also important in pointing us in the right direction.
Bill and Judy moved far away from DeSoto shortly after marrying and even though we have always been separated by distance our relationship has endured. Christianity has always been a strong bond that held us together. We never moved from Festus, but God allowed us to travel to most of the places Bill and Judy have lived. We have been able to see them many times over the years. Once Judy laughed because we were one of the few people in her address book that still had the same address and phone number.
They have encouraged us and we have encouraged them. Bill is gifted in music, Bible teaching, and church growth. He is very approachable, cares for others, and is good at building relationships. Judy is truly a Proverbs 31 woman. She is faithful to God and a true help meet for her husband. Their children have been a reward for their diligence in teaching them the real meaning of a Christian life. Rod, Lottie, Ruth, and Courts have been and are being mightily used by God.
Thank you, Rod, for this insight into your life and that of your family’s. Admitting your failures as well as your good choices takes courage. We pray as you continue to grow in the Lord, that He will use you and your testimony of God’s faithfulness to each of us. We are blessed and honored to call you and your family “our” family and friends.