Residence: Rock Hill, S.C.
Occupation: Retired senior vice president, Flint Energies
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part interview.
Q: How’s the weather in Rock Hill, S.C.?
Never miss a local story.
A: It’s been wonderful. Cooling off but sunny, and that’s been good for hauling boxes around.
Q: Hauling boxes and Rock Hill are different from your past 19 years. Why Rock Hill and boxes?
A: I’ve retired and my wife, Judy, and I have moved to Rock Hill. Retired after 19 years in Middle Georgia, Houston County and living in Kathleen. We came to the area when I began work with Flint Energies.
Q: How do you rate your time here?
A: Oh, so many great experiences and great people. Houston County is the best place we’ve lived, and Judy affirms that. Houston County’s been the best and Flint gave me so many opportunities and great friends. It’s had the best church, best chambers (of commerce), best leaders — all of it. I wouldn’t have believed the emails and notes we’ve gotten, including a special one from our legislative delegation about a resolution they had passed honoring me. Blows me away.
Q: You have had an impact behind the scenes and at the forefront through Flint and as a private citizen. But first let’s talk personally: if Houston County is so great, why leave so quickly? You actually had everything in place.
A: That’s right. We’d already planned the move, bought a house, gotten South Carolina car tags and my wife was living here.
A: Family. Grandkids. Part of our long list of things to be thankful for is our family, and now we’re within an hour of my mom, who’s 90, and just 10 minutes from our two granddaughters, daughter and son-in-law.
Q: How long have you and Judy been married?
A: Thirty-five years. We were married on the same date as my mom and dad’s anniversary.
Q: And how’s the rocking chair Houston County commissioners gave you as you left, complete with University of Georgia logo? Getting used?
A: (Laughing:) It has a good place on the back porch. It was in the garage at first, but Judy kept wanting to know when I was going to carry it out back. Our new house is next to a York County park so it’s perfect for coffee on the back porch. And it’s a reminder of great neighbors, friends and knowing when we left it wasn’t “farewell” but “see you around.”
Q: So you’ll visit?
A: Sure. And Bob Ray, my boss at Flint, asked me to come back as master of ceremonies each October at the Flint annual meeting. That was one of the first things on my 2018 calendar. It will be in Perry at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter.
Q: How else are you in touch? Facebook?
A: I have friends across the country through work, travel and places we’ve lived. I’ve been in 49 states; all but Alaska. It was 38 years ago I started working with electric membership cooperatives. I was in journalism before that. There are friends all over and I keep up pretty well with Facebook.
Q: Where are you from? South Carolina?
A: No, North (Carolina).
A: You can tell I love travel. For 2018, Judy and I have a road trip planned. No airplanes but we’ll cover a lot of miles. One stop will be the college world series. I’m a big baseball fan. I’m also a planner and love planning trips about as well as traveling them. This trip is for Judy and I, but we love going with the whole family and granddaughters. We enjoy making memories.
Q: Such as?
A: Like not too long ago we all went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. I’d never seen a bear and one Sunday morning, about 6:30, while in the Tetons we got to see a mama grizzly and her cubs. It means a lot to go on adventures together. The girls call it adventures with Poppie. They call Judy “Nanna.”
Q: Apparently slowing down isn’t on your calendar. But do you plan repeating some of what you did here as far as community involvement?
A: As I see it, retirement isn’t an end but turning a page for a new chapter. I love Houston County, but now we’re connecting to a new base of operations. I’m going to do a little consulting to help some cooperatives that may be in trouble or just need another way of looking at things. I’ve got my first work but I’m not going to let that take over. I’m going to carefully fit it in. I’ve talked to friends at the local electric cooperative and we’re already involved with some nonprofits. I think my first contribution was 100 tubes of toothpaste to an organization. I already miss my Flint co-workers, but part of retiring is getting out of the way so young people can step up.
Q: They say it’s taking two people to replace you.
A: Well it’s just good seeing they’re Flint employees getting opportunity. What’s better than seeing people you worked with and hopefully helped train take over? That’s rewarding and it’s good knowing Flint’s in good hands top to bottom.
Q: Alaska on the calendar?
A: Not for 2018. That’s on for 2019.
The Q&A with Jimmy Autry will continue in Part 2 in the next Sun News.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.