son-of-a-bitchin' whore! I'LL KILL YOU!" yelled my father
amid the crashing sounds of broken lamps, pots and pans, and
anything my parents could get their hands on to throw at each
other. My mother was a bloody mess! I was only five-years
old. A lifestyle of domestic violence, alcoholism and poverty
were rampant during the early years of my life.
In 1946, when I was six-years old, my parents abandoned my
sixteen and fifteen-year old brothers and me and went their
separate ways. My brothers dropped out of school in the ninth
grade and were "on their own" struggling to survive.
I was "taken-in" by my maternal grandmother, at
a time when she was experiencing serious financial and health
problems. From 1946 to 1948, I lived with my grandmother and
her alcoholic husband in a one-room shack, without electricity,
water, sanitary facilities or heat. After cancer took my grandmother's
life in 1948, I spent the rest of my growing up years in foster
homes and a children's welfare home.
The unlikely setting was Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a small, upper
middle-class, Midwest town. The discipline and competitiveness
of sports and a loving foster mother, who died when I was
in high school, gave me a reason to stay in school and try
to make something of my life. Alone in the world at age eighteen,
I found a home in the Navy (1958-1962) and saved enough money
for one year of college. As a walk-on, I earned a football
scholarship for two years. I worked long summer hours at demanding
physical-labor jobs in order to finish college. Despite academically
finishing near the bottom of my high school graduating class,
I earned a degree from Ohio University in January 1967. After
graduation, I began a fifteen-year career in teaching and
coaching before entering the business world.
My wife and family, foster mothers, high school football coach
and my faith in God, established purpose in my life. My story
is about the supportive roles they have played in my determined
efforts to "fight through adversity" and accomphish
many of my goals.