KEYSTROKE MONTHLY THE
JUNE 2020 ONE OF THE HARDEST JOBS IN THE WORLD
And How My Father Succeeded at It
None of us can choose our parents, so I feel fortunate to have had parents who loved their family and provided for us however they could. I learned a lot from my father as I grew up, and even more when I reflected on the times I spent with him. He rose through the ranks working in oil refineries for most of his career, yet he still found time to help raise five sons. That alone is worthy of celebration, but it hardly captures who my father was. My dad was born and raised on a small farm in north-central Missouri. He was the only one of his five siblings to graduate from high school, and afterward, he attended college for two years, earning his teaching certificate. Then, he taught in a little one-room schoolhouse for two years during the Great Depression. Around the same time, my two oldest brothers, who are twins, and another brother were born. It wasn’t easy raising three kids on a teacher’s salary, but other jobs were hard to come by. Fortunately, my dad’s brother found work at an oil refinery in the Texas Panhandle. He worked there a year, then sent word to my dad to come work there with him during the summer while he wasn’t teaching. My dad joined him and made more money working there for a summer than he had all year as a teacher. So, he moved the family down to Texas so he could work there full time. He started out as a general laborer, low on the totem pole, but eventually, he became a foreman over one area of the refinery. Six years later, he got an offer to work at a refinery in Duncan, Oklahoma, where I was born and where he eventually became the plant manager, supervising over 500 employees. He was a top dog in a business where most of the other managers had degrees in chemistry and engineering. My dad got his job by working through the ranks. When I was growing up, I always thought it was neat that my dad had his own office and a secretary who took his calls. I didn’t really appreciate the effort it took for him to get to that point until much later. His hard work became an inspiration to me, and it showed me what I could do if I worked just as hard as he did.
of my games and cheered me on, and he loved to take me fishing. However, one of the most impactful moments involving my dad was a time when he wasn’t even in the room. It was at the town barbershop right after he’d dropped me off. A couple of the guys who worked for my dad were there, and after he left, they mentioned that my dad was one of the finest men they had ever worked for. When you’re a teenager, you never feel like your parents do anything right, but hearing how much my dad’s employees appreciated him helped me appreciate him a little more. As important as my dad’s work at the oil refinery was, it wasn’t nearly as important as his role as my father. Parenting is one of the most important jobs anyone can do, but parents don’t get the credit they deserve. If your father is still around, please make sure you give him a call this Father’s Day.
Even in the midst of his hard work, however, he always found time to spend with me and my brothers. Over the years, he attended most
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