Stumbling Around

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Welcome Back! (Part I)

'65 SLC grad stumbles back into writing

Since this is the inaugural “Stumbling Around” column, I’ll spend a few minutes introducing myself, introducing the column, and explaining both the name of the column and my reason for entitling this one “Welcome Back!”

From 1961 to 1965, I attended Southeastern Louisiana College (so-named at the time) and graduated with a B.S in Chemistry (and a minor in journalism). During that period of time, I wrote a column called “Inside SLC” for the Daily Star about interesting, strange, and sometimes funny things that were going on at Southeastern. I didn’t earn a lot of money as a columnist so every now and then Editor Joe Coyle would give me an interesting story to cover so that I could earn a few extra dollars. Some of those stories have been very memorial. With newspaper income; a student loan each semester covering 5 and 2/3 days a week worth of meals, registration, and books; and working for the Chemistry Department for $0.25/hour, I made it through four years of college. Of course, there weren’t many dates along the way, and I couldn’t afford to eat Saturday night and all day Sunday, but such was the life of a poor struggling college student.

The austere life did have its advantages though. When I graduated, I had the highest grade point average of any of the Chemistry majors. There were nine of us, the largest chemistry class in the school’s history as of that time. If you don’t have enough money to eat or date, what else is there for you to do on week-ends, but study?

After SLC, I entered Graduate School in Chemistry at LSU with a Teaching Assistantship and five years later accepted a position with the Du Pont Company in Wilmington, Delaware. After 17 years with Du Pont in a variety of positions, I was made “an offer that I couldn’t refuse” by the founder of a newly-formed and rapidly growing environmental remediation and consulting company to join the Company as a Senior Manager. That brought on a whole slew of new jobs and new activities within the environmental industry. In 1993, the company was purchased by a larger firm and I was faced with having to move from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, a move I did not want to make. Rather than move, I resigned and started my own environmental consulting firm which I named STAR Environmental. To this day, I don’t know if the name of my company harkened back to my days with “The Daily Star” or not. (Eventually, the company which purchased my former employer was itself purchased by Shaw Industries of Baton Rouge.)

About two years ago, my daughter Robin (who lives in Pumpkin Center) suffered a brain aneurysm and underwent emergency brain surgery at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans. Although recovering, one day she called me in Pennsylvania saying “Dad, I don’t think I have long to live. I’m worried about my three children. Is there any way that you could move back to Louisiana?”

What’s a father to do?

To be continued next column

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