Category Archives: Personal

Yes We Can :: AlObama

Today is a great day.

I grew up in the era of segregation. Tonight brings tears to my eyes.

My sister tells me that Mother went to Selma for the second march, the one that ended in prayer – not violence.  I grew up seeing and hearing about these things.  Ugly things.

Segregation was an ugly period.

To be sure, there were some kind, caring and even fun times.  I remember being taken to the black high school’s football games by my baby sitter, Georgia. She was a wonderful woman and those were great times.

Still, there were ugly times, too.

Yet, some people came out of it all and taught us all lessons. There are many people from those days that I still look up to with reverence today.

My childhood friend, Keith Black (bio), is one of them.  He came out of it all pretty well, ya’ think?   He turned out alright.  But still, it was not a pretty era.  His parents moved away, so that Keith and his siblings could have a better life.

The world we lived in should not have made that necessary. They shouldn’t have had to leave in order to succeed. Do students today really grasp that such things happened – in this country, only 30 or 40 years ago?

Forgive me for sounding like a stodgy old fogey here, but I hope that the youth of today truly grasps the weight of this great evening … this great accomplishment.

We may not appreciate it just yet, but today is as powerful as (and the culmination of) 28 August 1963 – I Have A Dream.

Today is more than a great day, it is a momentous day. It is earth shaking. And that’s a good thing.

With all our problems, we truly are a great nation.  It may take us time, but we can grow.  We can learn.  We can change.

Let’s remember that and use this moment in history to build upon … for the better.

I don’t write a lot of personal posts here.  I hope you’ll appreciate that I just felt a need to let a little out.  This is a tremendous day.  We should all be happy and proud and grateful … to be Americans.  Think of this as a snapshot of my feelings. Trust me, there is a lot more welling up inside.

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The Well Reasoned Clear Thoughts of Colin Powell

I was disappointed by Colin Powell’s involvement in taking us into the Iraq war.

He was used, or allowed himself to be used, by the Administration much the same way Adlai Stevenson spoke to the U.N. during the Cuban Missle Crisis. Problem is, he did it backwards. Stevenson did have evidence. Powell had conjecture (some say manufactured evidence). I believe it was, to a great extent, Colin Powell’s gravitas that helped sway opinions toward supporting the invasion of Iraq.

I know. Two different times. Two different issues. But, there are similarities and we needed an Administration and a Stevenson to keep us out of Iraq. We should not be there.

That said, Powell’s endorsement of Obama makes sound sense. I’m glad he took the step to speak out now.

But, let’s not forget these examples, too.



Tommy Goff’s Opus :: His life was music and students. He changed lives. He changed mine.

Of all the things I’ve written in this blog, I can sincerely say that, if I had to choose, this post (and one about Allison Wetherbee) are really the only shared thoughts I really want you to read. I’ve been holding back the temptation to write about this. But, just this moment, I couldn’t hold back anymore.

A great man passed away on September 25, 2008. Tommy Goff.

I could say, he was my high school band director. But, that really doesn’t even begin to tell the story.

His passing has caused me to do something I don’t normally do. In fact, the last time I’ve done this was when my father passed away a year ago last July. Before that, it was my brother’s passing in June of 1982. I cried. I’ve actually found tears coming a couple of times. He changed my life. I miss Tommy Goff. My brother Bill called the other day. He was in the band, too. I could tell by his voice that the passing of Mr. Goff is a very emotional event. I understand.

This is a man who really has no equal in music education. A member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame right alongside people like W. C. Handy and Nat King Cole. Seriously. Tommy Goff is their equal.

Oh, he never achieved mass national and international fame, sure. But, he is – in the lives of the students he took care of, nurtured, encouraged – a giant. His presence still looms large. We find ourselves thinking of him as we go through life. His bands always excelled. There is no equal in winners of superior rankings at state contetests, to be sure. And, that wasn’t just his bands, but his individual players, too. Tommy Goff made winners. The winning didn’t stop in high school, either. So many of his students have gone on to great achievements. They so often point back to Tommy Goff. Cool, isn’t it.

Mary Belk recently wrote about Tommy Goff. Mary is Tommy’s sister-in-law, sister to Jane, Tommy’s wonderful wife. Mary was actually my babysitter when I was a kid. She joined me for dinner recently as we took my mother out for her birthday. Mary was one of Tommy’s first students.

Jennifer Ryan even shared that her father went to school with Tommy Goff. See? It is a small world. From Twitter, “JenniferRyan: @rdfrench Talked to my Dad about Tommy Goff. He recounted a story about when they went on a double date together.”

I shared the following in the guest book at the Opelika-Auburn News. Look at all the other comments. You can tell. This man was such a strong influence in so many people’s lives.

There is a wonderful recounting of Mr. Goff’s life at The Caring Bridge and you’ll also be able to read many more memories from former students in their guest book, too. Just type in “tommygoff” where it says “Visit a CaringBridge website” in the little box that says ” – Enter Website Name – “. Click the “My Story”, “Guestbook” and “Journal” links to see more wonderful memories.

Mr. Goff influenced so many people, changed so many lives and always in a positive way. All of us fortunate enough to have been a student of his at Auburn High School have been forever changed for the better.

He pushed us and he pulled us … always toward a positive goal. The music, the friendships, the memories and so much more were all made possible by his leadership.

For me, being in Tommy Goff’s band was a life changing experience for which I will always be grateful. I’ve thought of him often since high school, and I’ll never forget him.

This is a man who, like Jane (his recently departed wife), will live on in many people and their children … their children’s children, and on. They both had that much positive impact on people’s lives.

Tommy Goff was, is and always will be a true giant.

Here is Tommy King Goff’s obituary from the O-A News.

Below is a recording of just one song from one of his band’s. This is Emperata Overture. A fitting selection as it sounds like the celebration that was Mr. Goff’s life. Hard to believe we played that over 30 years ago. It seems like yesterday. At times, I wish it was. Such were the wonderful fun times in Tommy Goff’s band. Funny, he actually made being a band geek cool. Truer than you may know. Find more music at the Auburn High bands Web site.

Here’s an excerpt from the Auburn High Bands page. It reflects the truly remarkable record that Mr. Goff, for the most part, made happen for thousands of students over the years.

The Auburn High School Band has made a name for itself over the past 68 years, amassing an overall all-judges concert record of 340-4-0-0-0 in winning literally hundreds of state and national competitions. The Bands have placed nearly 800 students in All-State Bands, members have received over 1000 first division solo and ensemble ratings in the past decade alone, and members have performed with national honor bands five out of the past eight years. Besides being one of only 49 bands worldwide to have ever received the Sudler Flag, the Band is one of only 64 listed on the Historic Roll of Honor of Distinguished High School Concert Bands in America, as a concert band of “historical importance and influence to the nation’s high school concert band programs.”

You remember Mr. Holland’s Opus? So many of us, when we saw that movie, we said, “That’s Tommy Goff!” Truly, so much of it was, too.

There is a lesson in all of this. Well, many lessons, actually. But the one that comes strongest to mind is this: let’s not forget those teachers from our past. You know, high school, elementary school, even kindergarten and nursery school. They have a remarkable impact on our lives. And, don’t do what I did. Go back. Say thank you. Oh, I’ve seen Mr. Goff several times in the years since high school, but I never *really* shared just how important he was to me. I wish I had. Tommy Goff is forever with me and so many others.

PR News 15 to Watch :: Margie Maddux Newman, Auburn ’02

Nothing makes you happier than seeing a student and/or alum succeed. Seeing this news brought such a smile to my face.

Margie Maddux NemanCongratulations to Margie Maddux Newman, Principal with Hall Strategies in Nashville, TN. Margie has been selected for the PR News Top 15 to Watch list.

The Top 15 to Watch List covers “PR News’ Annual 15 to Watch competition. This program, honoring 15 budding PR leaders and creative practitioners, is open to PR professionals age 30 and under. Nominees must be a practicing communications professional at any of the following: a corporation, PR firm, nonprofit/ association, educational institution, government organization or industry supplier. Nominees may reside anywhere in the world.”

A 2002 cum laude Auburn graduate, Margie is quite remarkable, IMO.

After leaving Auburn, Margie winds up in the Office of the Governor of Tennessee working for Governor Phil Bredesen. During that time she handled many duties. The Assistant to the Governor for Communications, Margie “facilitated event planning for speaking engagements and public appearances, created and coordinated statewide radio station outreach and technology, and founded, organized and directed Governor’s Internship Program.”

Margie announced the great news in her blog, Flack Rabbit. Love that name. ;o)

I remember Margie for a lot of reasons. She was (is) smart. She was curious and diligent. But, this one thing sticks out after she left Auburn. I remember getting a phone call and chatting with Margie about a project she wanted to undertake.

The project involved doing something we had covered in class. Margie was to create a statewide radio PSA campaign. She took what we did in class and turned it into a terrific series of radio PSAs that she created on her laptop computer. :o) That one has always stuck with me. She’s a go-getter. She’s also won awards for her newsletters. Pretty cool, huh.

Please go say congrats to Margie!

Some links: Margie’s Web site, Flack Rabbit and on Twitter, she’s @MargieNewman.

Auburn loves you, Margie. Congratulations!

Camp ASCCA and Felicia Day :: People and Places I Love

I love a lot of people and places. You may think I throw around the word love, in that respect, but no … I really do love them. You know, in that respectful “You’ve made my life happy and better, so I want to say thank you” kind of way.

Examples? How about our interns at Camp ASCCA. Danika Kmetz, Kelli Hood and Zeb Ramey. These people are absolutely terrific and did such a wonderful job. Look at ASCCA Friends and the Camp ASCCA Journal to see all the great work they did this summer.

But, there is more. They did video, audio, photos, media pitching, releases, features, tours, marketing … the list goes on and on. Continue reading

Jeremy Pepper :: Telling It Like It Is

I’ll preface this with a language warning, should you follow the link. Sometimes strong language makes a point.

I am compelled to share a great post with you.

Jeremy Pepper has, once again, said what needs to be said. Oh, he may say it in a form that some find distasteful, but don’t many social critics do that?

Check his post. I initially commented, and want to share this follow up. Continue reading

Allison Wetherbee on Fox 6 in B’ham :: Absolutely Alabama :: Another Reason I Go On and On About Camp ASCCA

I think that anyone who ever meets Allison Wetherbee comes away with a clear realization … she is a terrific person. Having her return to Camp ASCCA, as the director of public relations, may go down as one of the brightest decisions ever made for camp. I think this video proves that.

Allison was recently interviewed by Fred Hunter, Fox6 News in Birmingham, for their Absolutely Alabama series.

Allison shares how camp helped her over the years, trying anything new that she had her heart set upon doing. Since being a camper, Allison has gone on to earn a masters degree in counseling and served for almost 13 years in practice, before returning to Camp ASCCA.

I have to admit, I got a little tear thinking about Allison as a camper and now – the ASCCA PR director. It is a sweet story. She is the spokesperson for camp, and does a terrific job.

Watch the video now. (Click image below for a popup.) I have to say, Fred and the videographer/editor do terrific work. A great video. Thank you Fox6!

Now do you understand why I can’t help but talk about Camp ASCCA? 😉