When I look back to those who have profoundly impacted my life, I realize the importance of each person reaching in and helping to mold me into who I am today. Growing up, I loved listening to older adult conversations and learning from their mistakes and triumphs! Think about it; the combined connections that we have had with others throughout our lives may be key reasons for some of our most important decisions.
One such person for me was a man named Bill Appleton, a family friend who also worked as a carpenter for my dad. Bill advised me to wait until I got to Texas for college before registering for the military draft. He said, “If you register in Alabama, you will go to Viet Nam. There will be a much bigger pool of Black registrants, and maybe less racial prejudice in the county where your college is located. ”
Even though I ended up having to take three military draft related physicals, I did not get drafted. A high school classmate ended up getting drafted out of Atlanta University’s grad school. He connected with a military doctor that gave him a medical discharge so he could pursue his accounting education and successful career.
Early in my career, I met the most diabolical person of my life. I saw his car in the apartment complex where we lived and also at my job site , 45 miles away. I approached him about us switching off driving to and from work. During our commute, I learned that his girlfriend lived in the apartments and he bragged about talking her into dropping out of college. He also made her get a second job.
This guy was actually in a second marriage with three sons and only allowed his wife to buy “one” pound of hamburger meat per meal. His wife stated that she had not received a new pair of shoes for over five years, and she had repeatedly asked her husband to get the older son sorely needed glasses. During our commute to work, I mentioned that my wife saw his son squinting. The kid got glasses the next day. He wanted his wife to take the boys to their hometown and get on welfare. When she refused, they ended up getting into a fight, and she stabbed him. He chased her into their yard. Once he realized that neighbors were watching their antics, he fell onto the ground. Not a single onlooker came to his aide, so he struggled back into the house to call his girlfriend.
In spite of his negative actions toward his family, he introduced me to The Bahá’í Faith. This introduction to the Baha’i Faith was life-changing for me. It allowed me to look at religion from outside of Christianity, probably the best spiritual thing to happen in my life! So, as you can see, connections, even seemingly negative, can have very positive impacts on our lives!
My primary hobby in retirement is to connect with as many individuals and families as possible and help them to be all that they can be through providing them with enlightening information. I’m getting better and better at it!
–William Leroy Kennedy
Beyond his career as an engineer, diversity and training manager, and financial advisor, he asserts, “Getting to teach others about how to become more financially astute has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career.”
While doing all of the above, Mr. Kennedy managed to help raise his daughter and son, six years apart, to become outstanding students with true senses of community. They graduated from UNC Chapel Hill/Harvard Law School and Stanford/Harvard Business School, respectively.
Many hours were spent working with church, civil rights and community organizations in effort to help produce progress. Motivating youth to be all that they can be is a constant goal of Mr. Kennedy.
He is very high on using khanacademy.org as an educational tool that can help all, regardless of age or learning disability, succeed in life. Every adult and child should visit the site is his motto.