Today is my dad’s birthday. If he were alive, he would be 89 years old. Sadly, he passed away at the young age of 48. He served in World War II honorably, enlisting when he was 17. Well, he lied about his age to go into the military, but for an honorable reason. He lived his life honorably, and as a band director, he taught many young people who still remember and revere him. How do I know? Because many have reached out to me over the years to share stories about how he influenced them. He took a personal interest in each child he taught and strived to help them achieve their potential. In some cases, he was the major positive influence in their lives.
In my years covering metal fabricating, I’ve seen others who remind me of my dad in how they relate to and care for the young people they teach and mentor. Welding instructor Marty Rice is one of them.
Throughout the years, Marty has e-mailed me accounts of his students’ achievements, whether they be serving in the military, as Marty did honorably in Vietnam; winning awards in welding competitions; or landing a good job in welding.
A few weeks ago, he sent me a write-up that appeared in his local and school newspaper. I’m sharing it with you. Perhaps it will inspire you to use your influence honorably or remember those you have encountered along the way who have done so.
“Lewisville I.S.D. welding instructor, Marty Rice, has a lot of what he calls ‘million dollar moments.’ He explains them as e-mails, phone calls, and visits from his many successful students, as well as watching current students learn ‘the last of the great industrial trades.’
“’I am richer than any millionaire could hope to be,’ Rice said, especially citing his ex-students in the military who have taken time to visit while back from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘As an army veteran, I know how important leave time is, and it’s very humbling.’
“Besides winning local, state, and national contests with both male and female welders, Rice is more concerned with teaching his students about honor than anything else. On November 9th Rice visited his former student Nelson Dockery, who is working at a shipyard on the east coast.
“’He was one of the welders who worked on the USS Gerald R. Ford Aircraft Carrier and invited me to its christening,’ Rice said. ‘It was absolutely amazing!’
“Rice is no stranger to the area having seen his son’s ship come back from an African deployment at Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, and visiting him at the Norfolk Navy Base. On his son’s second deployment as a ‘Sand Sailor’ he bumped into one of his dad’s former students.
“’He was working with the Army, and my ex-student was departing from his second tour in Iraq. They had met years before and it gave new meaning to it’s a small world,’ Rice said.
“Several of Rice’s ex’s have been based at Norfolk, and one was just chosen to attend the Naval Academy.
“’Working for Lewisville I.S.D. has been very rewarding. From the school board, superintendents, principals and support staff, I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with,” Rice said. “They have not only supported me but also put up with my crazy, unorthodox ways. I couldn’t have done it without them.’
“Rice has been with the district for twenty years and is an honorary member of Iron Workers Local No. 263, an advisory board member for Eastfield College and is a contributing author for http://www.thefabricator.com/author/marty-rice.”
That’s Marty, my dad, and other largely unknown people of honor and influence. Today, I’m thinking about my dad and how proud I am of him. If you have someone like this in your life, what don’t you take a moment to tell them how you feel about their influence on your life.
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