MY STORY …
Friends and Neighbors,
My life has always centered on service and sacrifice, respect and dignity, and honesty and integrity. I invite you to read the passages below to learn more about what shaped my character: My early life growing up in a working-class family struggling to make ends meet. My roots, which are firmly planted in hard-working, Midwestern values. And my devotion and duty to our country.
My word has always been my bond, as was my father’s before me and his before him.
When I was very young, I heard my father talk about how a person’s word was their bond. Back then, I didn’t fully understand what he meant. But as I grew into adulthood, I realized that people would soon get to know you by your actions; you say what you do and do what you say! Too many times these days people will tell us the things they think we want to hear. Things they believe they need to say to get what they want. Then, after they get it, they do as they please. But, that’s not what my father taught me.
The Korean Conflict
Thank you, Dad, for your service. May God bless our veterans and all who continue to serve.
My parents grew up on their family farms in Iowa during the Great Depression and World War II. Both became teachers. My father, a U.S. Navy veteran, served in America’s forgotten war – the one between the last big war and Vietnam. It was called the Korean Conflict. He never talked about it when I was a kid, and he still doesn’t today. But I know from my history classes in school, like all wars, it was brutal. He froze his feet over there, which still remind him what he endured back then. I will never forget the sacrifice he and others made and those who continue to serve today.
Dignity and Respect
We are all unique in our particular ways, and everyone deserves respect and a chance to live their lives in dignity and with grace.
My mother left her family’s farm where they grew corn and raised cattle and hogs and chickens. She settled down with my Dad to raise her family and later went off to college to become an elementary school teacher. She taught children with special needs and those on the Autism spectrum. When I was still in primary school myself, I asked her one day how she could teach kids with all of those challenges? She told me that she saw her work as a blessing. It was her calling to help those young children find their place in life and reach their full potential. Her words still stick with me today and have helped me understand that every human life has value.
Gratitude and Hard Work
Growing up, I learned how neighbors could help each other and that it was OK to lean on someone and still be independent.
I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood outside Detroit, Michigan. Country music was always on the radio at home and Motown played with my friends when I was out. Like those up and down our block, my family was part of the working class. We were not rich in material things, but I never felt that I lacked for anything. My Dad took good care of our family, taking extra part-time jobs to make ends meet. And my Mom would patch the holes in my jeans and mend my shoes to get a little extra wear out of them. During those days, I learned gratitude, the value of hard work, and how to make a paycheck stretch. I also learned how neighbors could help each other get past the difficult times and that it was OK to lean on someone and still be independent.
Duty, Honor, Service
I always knew that I wanted to serve.
When I left home, I knew that I wanted to serve. I was filled with a sense of pride and a humbled patriotism for our country. After ROTC in high school and a brief stay at the Air Force Academy, I took a federal job with the U.S. Air Force. It was the height of the Cold War, and I applied my technical talent, along with others, to defeat communist Chinese, Soviet Union, and North Korean military threats. My fascination with all things aerospace led me to eventually take a job with NASA at its Human Spaceflight Center in Houston, Texas, where I worked on Space Shuttle and International Space Station crew-support systems. It was 9/11 that drew me back to protect our country again. I joined one of our nation’s intelligence services working with counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, and special military teams. So, while other kids had posters of cars or movie stars pinned to the walls in their rooms growing up, I had Old Glory hanging on my mine. That’s because always knew I wanted to serve.
Service to Community
I believe in tolerance, compassion, and equitable treatment toward all.
Now retired, I have lived with my wife in beautiful Howard County for many years. My wife faithfully served our country for over thirty years in the Department of Defense. We both have a passion for service, and both are actively involved in our community. We are dedicated to promoting excellence and accountability in our schools to better prepare our children for their future, growing our communities in smart, sustainable ways, helping people with mental health, cognitive, and physical disability challenges, keeping our environment clean, and maintaining the health and well-being of our veterans and first responders.