Friday, December 23, 2011

Remembering a Great Mentor

There was a Man who Convinced Me I Could Do This

Building a Railroad
Reconstructing my model of Ellicot's Mills for the B&O Railroad Museum.

A Milestone Monday Feature

In Chapter 14 of Chuck Balsamo's new book Make Me a Legend Pastor Balsamo talks about the importance of finding a good mentor. He brought back some important memories as I recalled the influence of a man named Reggie. Reggie served in the Navy during World War II and achieved the rank of Aviation Machinist's Mate, Second Class. He was a first class mentor.

I met this amazing man because I went to school with his daughter. He was a Chevrolet mechanic and an avid outdoorsman. He introduced me to the wonders of Coastal New Jersey as I happily paddled for hours through marshes and creeks. At about 50 years old, Reggie became an instructor at the vocational technology school. There he discovered his true gifts and passions.

At an age where most men are thinking about taking it easy, Reggie enrolled in Rutgers University and pursued a degree in administration. Education and young people had become his true calling and he graduated from college the same time one of his daughters did.

Days at Reggies place where full ones. He lived in a little postwar bungalo and when his children and their assembled friends were descending on the place around ten in the evening, he'd put on a pot of coffee. It came as no surprise that Reggie enjoyed lively conversation and sometimes these talk sessions would end in the wee hours of the morning. Good coffee, however, always made up for sleep deprivation.

Reggie went on to become a high school principal, but I have to believe that the best classes he ever taught were at his own kitchen table. He noticed that I was a hands-on guy struggling with an academic world. He found information on architectural model making and shared it with me. "You'd be good at this, Bob." Years later I was literally living off of this compliment. My little studio built models for architects, including one famous one. I worked on several models for resort projects in Japan, though I'm not sure how a man who served in the Pacific Theatre would feel about that.

No doubt, this man has influenced many young lives in a similar manor. I am priviledged to have known him.


Lynn R. Mitchell said...

Your post made me think back on the mentors in my own life, Bob. Thanks for the memory of Reggie and sharing the huge influence he had on the direction of your journey.

Merry Christmas to you and your family, my friend. May the New Year bring you joy and prosperity ... and many more posts to share from your corner of the world. ~Lynn

Bob K. said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Lynn.

Thank you for your encouragement that I can actually articulate these things. Pam and I wish you a wonderful New Year full of new and interesting destinations.