Life Lessons and Learning Experiences
Life brings countless learning experiences, but none more impactful than those imposed by my parents before I reached my teenage years.
Life brings countless learning experiences, but none more impactful than those imposed by my parents before I reached my teenage years. In brief, my later experiences included working one summer on a sister’s farm in exchange for room, board and a heifer calf. Over time, that single little heifer multiplied into a small herd that helped pay for college.
I paid for 100% of my college expenses working odd jobs during summer and semester breaks and for Oklahoma State University (OSU) after class. Such an accomplishment can still be attained, but it requires non-monetary assistance. Several of those summer jobs were arranged by my brother. And my future wife, also an OSU student, played an important role in this effort. She worked as secretary for the Dean of Men who awarded Dean’s Honor Roll certificates each semester. Since I didn’t have time or money to waste, I made his list every semester.
Through a Residence Council, the Dean rewarded my scholastic effort by recommending that I be appointed the first president of a new dormitory, Parker Hall, and hired me as a student assistant in the facility. The job came with important perks: a private room and telephone, twenty meals per week in the cafeteria, and a small monthly remuneration. That experience taught me to always be cordial to secretaries (and university Deans).
Along the way, I received a single $500 scholarship. Those funds helped restore my somewhat depleted savings account. Life was good thanks to the Dean and to my future wife.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, I briefly worked in Humble’s (now ExxonMobil) Tax Department before serving two years as a U.S. Army Finance officer in Turkey.
After military service, I returned to OSU where, with the help of a hardworking wife, I earned an MBA degree. While there, I managed an apartment complex for OSU’s Housing Department. The perks of that job included a two-bedroom apartment (we needed the space, Kim had arrived), a family meal ticket good at all university cafeterias, deeply discounted tuition, a free medical plan, and a student activities pass to all campus events. A small G.I. Bill stipend also came in handy.
Upon completion of my MBA studies, I accepted a position with a mortgage company’s commercial loan department. I left the mortgage company – a good learning experience, but not my cup of tea – to join Conoco’s Management Training Program. My last position after seven years with this good company was Director-Supply & Distribution in their Natural Gas Department.
I left Conoco to join a startup firm as Executive Vice-President and part owner of Gulf States Oil & Refining Company. After selling my interest in Gulf State, I co-founded and served as President of Wynn-Fowler, Inc., an energy products marketing company. During this period, I served on the Board of Governors of the OSU Foundation for several years. While on the Board, my wife and I funded several President’s Distinguished Scholarships (PDS). These prestigious scholarships are designed to attract top high school graduates to OSU, and because they are perpetual in nature, still help to fund the education of top OSU students.
Be patient with me. I have just one more history lesson before getting to the point of what this blog is all about.