Russ Thomas – SQL Judo

The Art of SQL Server Database Administration, Development, and Career Skills for the Technically Minded

TSQL Tue #59: My Heroes

I’m looking forward to reading the TSQL2SDAY posts this month.  Hero worship is something I have a bit of a problem with.  The problem being, there are way too many people that I wish I could pattern my actions, motivations, and accomplishments after.  I’ve spent the last couple days wracking my brain about one single person that I might write about.  Admitting defeat – I’m going to hit you with a few of my personal heroes.

T-SQL TuesdayTSQL2SDAY this month is hosted by Tracy McKibben ( @RealSQLGuy ).

This is the 59th installment of Adam Machanic’s monthly rotating blog party.  Tracy bases today’s topic on Heroes.  Today being Ada Lovelace day, an inspiring person in the history of computer science for many.

Thanks for the topic Tracy  ( you too Wendy ).

First up, my father Leland N Thomas.  Dad was a child of the depression.  He grew up working fields, horses and cows in the same house I was born in 45 years later – the early years eating nothing but mush oats, and war rations.  Between his birth and mine he served during the Korean war, took over his dad’s ranch, raised 7 children, and lifted the lives of everyone he ever came in contact with.  He was a true cattleman and could raise a full harvest on faith alone. He passed just prior to my 12th birthday but the man taught me literally everything I needed to know to be successful in life before that day.  Work hard, trust God, work hard, be honest, work hard, and quit yer bitchin.  He’s been gone for just over 25 years now and I still hear his voice in my head when I start feeling sorry for myself.  “quit yer bitchin; get back to work.”  Thanks dad.

Second, my mother, Deanna J Carter.  Mom joined dad upstairs about 12 years ago.  She was a school teacher in Manassa Colorado and to this day strangers contact me and tell me what an impact she had on their lives.  Mom would put a few pennies in her window seal each morning.  She would return a penny to the jar each time she did some type of service for someone else.  She would not go to bed until all the pennies had been returned to the jar.  The day they diagnosed her with pancreatic cancer she called me on the phone and said she loved me, her time had come, and not to worry… she knew her savior Jesus Christ and was excited to be back with the husband she missed so much.  She spent her last few weeks writing personal letters to her grand-children and making sure my wife felt as much like a cherished daughter as possible.

There is something I admire in each one of my brothers and sisters.  I originally entered law enforcement following the footsteps of my oldest brother Marvin.  My interest and passion for public speaking and training grew watching my brother Wayne instruct and delight every room he ever entered.  I’d be ecstatic if my daughters grew up to be like any one of my four sisters, my child-hood best buddy Char is now running that same ranch in southern Colorado with her husband Nathan that my Grand-Dad built.

P40from aviation art hangar – one of my favorite haunts on the web

My dad, an amateur pilot himself, got me interested in WWII era aviation at a young age.  To this day I am obsessed with those planes and the folks who flew them.  In my home office hangs a painting of the P40 Warhawks made famous by the Flying Tigers.  The painting is signed by 17 of the original American Volunteer Group that flew in China/Burma.  Jimmy Doolittle’s auto biography, “I could never be so lucky again”, is one of the most amazing portraits of a man I’ve ever read.  Chuck Yeager’s story is no less incredible.  Today marks the anniversary of his breaking of the sound barrier.  Pappy Gunn, another incredible biography I constantly re-read is a reminder that even John Wayne in movies could never have played a character nearly as colorful as these men were in true life.  Gunn was unique even for the “greatest generation”.

A typical Pappy Gunn story.  While getting his B-25 ready for flight he broke his pinky finger.  Pappy was not only a pilot but one of the most skilled mechanics and engineers of the era.  He was the man responsible for outfitting B-25s with 8 forward facing .50 cal machine guns and turning them into low level strafing platforms.  This being the 3rd or 4th time he’d broken that pinky working on engines he marched into the flight station surgeon’s office and demanded he amputate the finger.  “It only gets in the way”.  The surgeon refused exclaiming the finger would heal if he only were allowed to wrap it.  He then drew his Colt .45 pistol, placed it against the finger, and told the doc, either amputate it or I’ll shoot the damn thing off and you can clean up what’s left.  Pappy had enough of a reputation that no one doubted he was serious.  The pinky was removed and Pappy was wrenching and flying that afternoon.

I suppose when I look across all the people I admire the one common denominator is that each of them were obsessed with productivity and dedicated to something larger than themselves.  My dad gave me a work ethic having me feed cows, buck bales, milk, haul, water horses, and driving tractors every day of my life from the time I could stand.  It’s up to me however to take that work ethic and apply it to something other than my own self interests.  That’s how my mom lived. That’s how my wife Nicole lives.  Serving a bigger cause.  If I die, only having ever been a hero to my own children, that’ll be plenty for me.

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This entry was posted on October 14, 2014 by in Career Skills.
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