look back, I
marvel at all the places I’ve been, the things I’ve done, the people I’ve
worked with, and am thankful that I lived through it.
In 1949, I was 2 ½ years old when I walked
into a swing my sister was riding high. She was standing up in one of those
wooden swings that you could set an infant in and pumping it for all it was
worth. It split my face open. My Aunt Betty, who was nine month’s pregnant,
took me to the Navy base.
later, mother was dreaming that I had contracted polio. Over 20,000 children a
year were infected with the virus and no vaccine was available. We lived in
Navy housing in
lots of other children my age. Norfolk, Virginia
Ethel was sitting in the kitchen getting ready for high school about in the morning. I was
standing on the couch and trying to light one of my mother’s cigarettes. The
match fell out of my hand and landed on my pajama top. It immediately caught on
fire. My aunt heard my attempts to pat out the fire, turned and screamed.
mother, dreaming I had polio, awoke and immediately thought, “Oh no, it’s true…
George has polio!”She ran
into the living room; saw me on fire and thought, “Thank God!”
corpsmen at the base infirmary held me down while the doctor peeled the charred
skin away, swabbed me with Vaseline and wrapped me in gauze. I don’t remember
getting anything for the pain.
I’m not real sure, but the scars probably helped
as I started my first business. The Korean conflict had begun and the Navy sent
our fathers back to sea. For candy money, my buddies and I would pick Butter
Cups, make bouquets of them, pull them around in a red wagon and sell them for
five cents each. I remember telling a lady that “this is my last one.” She gave
me a quarter and told me to keep it.
When we were older, we caught dozens of
blue crabs and took them around in the wagon and sold them for .05¢ to .14¢
apiece (the bigger the better). The scar on my left thumb is where the three
stitches were put after I reached in the basket to show my mom the biggest blue
crab I had ever caught.
was nine and I started selling the Grit newspaper. I didn’t make much so I
added greeting cards and cans of salve to my inventory. Mowing yards for $3 was
too hard because of the junkie mowers my dad would buy. They were too hard to
start. It turns out that picking up coke and milk bottles for the deposit was a
better way to make money. Sanford
ninth grade I started delivering the Orlando Sentinel to homes in downtown
. I had
to get up at and
ride three and half miles to pick up my papers – rain or shine. The Sentinel
would put the number of pages in each addition in the upper right hand corner
of the front page. We would fold the small ones, but had to use huge rubber
bands on the bigger ones. It was always a thrill to see how many pages they
could stuff in the Thanksgiving Day paper. I quit my route after my Science
teacher threatened me if I fell asleep in his class again. Sanford
P Groceries opened a new store a few blocks from my house. They hired half the
boys in town to help stock and bag groceries when it opened. Tipping the bagboy
was an accepted practice then, especially if you wanted your eggs unbroken.
Payday was real cool because they gave you the money in small brown envelopes. Unfortunately,
three months later they fired 75% of the workforce.
worked out well for me though because I made the track team at
and had to practice after school. I was also on
the tumbling team
the rest of the year. Seminole High
I took a job as the janitor for
in Sunland Estates. I went there with my girlfriend and her family when I wasn’t at Grace Methodist with my family. I went to State both years I was on the track team and set the school record for high hurdles. I just wanted the letter jacket. Ebenezer Methodist Church
r the notes. I numbered them.
The five bucks bought my tickets to the football games, got me in the victory
dance afterwards, and paid for my lunch at school if I didn’t bring a sack from
home. I’m still waiting for a tip from the couple that got married and
destroyed the building.When I graduated from
worked for J.D. Construction on the Navy base with my brother Sonny and Billy
Kuykendall. We laid the drainage pipes for the runways and poured the concrete
for the tunnel that went under Golden Lake Road and into Golden Lake (it’s
I had to lie about my age to get the job. I got in trouble when I
told the foreman that I had to
In September of 1965 my dad signed a $1,000 loan
(that I had to pay off) to get me into Massey Business College in Jacksonville.
I took what little I had saved and moved into a boarding house run by Mrs.
Rickerson. We called ourselves the Rickerson Rats. For $70 a month we got a bed
and three square
meals (Sunday was breakfast only). I was studying for a diploma in
were hard to find. Everyone turned me down. I walked into the Western Auto
Store at 8th and
told the manager the college’s career counselor sent me over for the sales job
they had open. He didn’t know what I was talking about (no surprise, I made it
up), but hired me anyway.
It paid $1.25 an hour plus commission for sales over
$100 a week. I was confined to the nuts and bolts section, so the commission
was only a dream for me. I took
the Western Auto Salesmen course at night and learned how to jump customers
that needed a new set of tires or one of them new-fangled color TVs. Appliances
was still off limits so I rarely saw a commission working part-time.
threw boxes off of the train for eight hours straight. To take a smoke break,
we would open a side door and one of us would jump off and smoke. The other one
would throw twice as many boxes until it was his turn to smoke. The foreman had
a man on each dock counting the boxes as they rolled into the building.
week of no sleep I stopped answering the phone when REA called me to work a
shift. I moved into a room that cost $6 a week, that had no kitchen, and a
bathroom down the hall that we all shared.
I put a hotplate in my suitcase and
ate canned spaghetti, and French bread jelly sandwiches. I was down to about
150 lbs. and white as a sheep. I started stealing scratch offs at the grocery
store to help pay the rent.
cousin Wanda was dating Richard Hittell who was also attending Massey. I moved
in with them when they got married to help pay the rent. My bed was a Murphy
bed that folded up into the wall in the living room.
In March of 1966 I
decided to get married so I looked for a day job and decided to finish
starting salary at the bank was $3,000 a year. I didn’t have a car so I paid a
taxi fifty cents to get to work at 6:00 in the morning and then I walked the
three miles home. After a while, I figured out how the buses ran and rode both
ways for the same fifty cents. One day I walked home and took that quarter to
buy Kool-Aid (6 for a quarter). I was in high cotton!
wife and I moved across town and shared a duplex with Richard and Wanda. I
could ride to work with Richard and we could split living expenses. We ate lots
of chicken, potatoes and French bread sandwiches. We usually stayed up all
Friday night playing games and drinking Pepsi with Sloe Gin.
November 10, 1966 a lady knocked on the door the same time that my favorite
show, Star Trek, came on. I knew she was from the Baptist church down the road.
I was rude and closed the door. Later that night I trusted Jesus Christ as my
personal Savior in my bed.
This was a no-brainer. Don Harvey trained
me for the job, and when I took Jim Warner’s job, he taught me how to kill a hog
and make sausage.
years at FP&L I moved from meter reader to collector. I was active with the
youth department at Elder Springs Baptist Church. I realized that even though
life was good, eternal life was even better. I decided that I would rather do
things that would count for eternity instead of for the short time that I had
to live here on earth. I also lost two sons to premature birth this year and
knew that the first time that I will see them is in heaven.
we moved to
study for missionary work with New Tribes Mission (now Ethnos360). My goal was
to be in a support role and hopefully a pilot one day. We had lunch the first
day with the director and his family. They served ice water, soup and
sandwiches. I leaned over and whispered to my ex-wife, “We ain’t going to like
it here.” “Why?” she asked. ”Because they’re poor,” I said, “they don’t even
have iced tea!” Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania
found out they had pigs. I was not only the official painter on work detail; I
was the one the Game Warden woke up at night when someone hit a deer with their
car. I’d skin it out and kill one of the pigs the next day to mix with the
venison. We had about 150 people to divvy it up with.
Susquehanna River flood
of 1972, built and lived in a Jungle Camp and
New Tribes Mission in
on Jersey Shore May 4, 1973 and
stopped on the road in to
listen on the radio as Secretariat won the Kentucky Derby. We had a flat tire
in Louisville, Kentucky and
spent the night at the Grand Ole Opry. (Opening act... Jim Ed Brown.) Nashville, Tennessee
thousand miles later we were in I worked mixing cement for five Mexican
brick layers at
father-in-law was a Chief in the Navy there. Beeville, Texas to make enough money to return
to Bee County Community
College . When
I got back to Sanford, my Aunt Helen’s brother Bill Lee gave me a job nailing
on roof shingles. I tried so hard to keep up with him and the preacher’s son
Dale that I let a nail turn sideways and cut the tip of my finger – real bad. I
tied a rag around the wound and tried to keep up. Every other nail I was
nailing the rag to the roof. Florida
Bill told me to take it easy; he didn’t expect me
to be as good as them until I learned what I was doing. It didn’t help that his
seventy year old dad was sitting down and nailing as fast as me.
father-in-law’s appendix ruptured, so I ended up back in
was serious there for a while. I got a job laying pipe across Bee County that
would send oil from the well field to the storage tanks. I walked behind a big
flatbed trailer and pulled the pipe off as the driver pulled slowly down the
side of the road. On the way back to the shop the other workers pulled
pornography material out from under the seat and shared things that I didn’t
know was possible. Texas
my father-in-law that I couldn’t work with that crew. First of all, my arms
were still frozen in the flexed position from pulling pipe all day and
secondly, because I didn’t want to become like them. He had a friend that was
the lead singer in a country band that was trying to get him to be their fiddle
player. My father-in-law said, “If you’ll give this boy a job, I’ll play in
your band the nights I’m not playing with Kathy Dell and the Country Kings.”
owner of the company also owned most of the land around
made their fortune with cattle. When we didn’t have jobs with the rig, I got to
help round up some of the cattle. Once, the Mission River flooded and a small
herd was trapped on a small piece of land that may also go under. We rode and
swam our horses out there to drive them off, but they wouldn’t budge. Where’s a
Colt 45 when you need one. The next thing we knew, a helicopter buzzed down
over us and the herd took to the water like ducks. We just had to guide them in
the right direction. Refugio, Texas
later I was logging and perforating by myself and got a raise - $1.95 plus
commission! My father-in-law retired from the Navy and moved to Colorado. My
son Casey was born that year and I decided to move back to Sanford. There sure
wasn’t anything left in south Texas to keep me there.
I got a job as night
shift supervisor at Winn Dixie. We had to unload, price and stock the shelves
with the stuff that came in by truck each night. Hey, $3.50 an hour was looking
good. I trained at the DeLand store then moved to the Sanford store on First
Street two weeks later.
months later, in October of 1974, the guys at the Sanford Fire Department
r the notes. I numbered them. The five bucks bought my tickets to the football games, got me in the victory dance afterwards, and paid for my lunch at school if I didn’t bring a sack from home. I’m still waiting for a tip from the couple that got married and destroyed the building.
Three months later, in October of 1974, the guys at the Sanford Fire Department talked me
August 15, 1975, my
son Corey was born at 23 weeks; three and half months early. He weighed 1 ½
pounds and was twelve inches long. He was flown by military life-flight out of
Tampa to the Neonatal Unit at Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville. He came
home four months later and two days before Christmas as the Miracle Baby.
I was sitting outside of the fire station waiting for the sun to go down so
that I could take down the flag. I thought about my family at home and how I
wouldn’t see them until I left my construction work the next night. I decided
that the next five years will go by anyway, so I could be sitting here waiting
to take down the flag, or I could have a college degree.
of 1981, at the age of 34, I moved to Chattanooga and enrolled in Tennessee
Temple University. I would pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Education. I
had a “promise” of a job making chicken feeders at Cumberland Farms, but they
were furloughing workers when I arrived.
someone told me they needed an
EMT at the
hospital in . I
could study when I wasn’t on calls, so I took the job. Hutcheson Medical Center
was a trauma center and had a great ER. We grew from two stations in one county
to five stations in two counties. I started on the Advanced Life Support Unit
in Chickamauga, Georgia. Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia
and I had a lawn mowing business for two summers.
1986 graduate I did, Magna Cum Laude. Dr. Robertson handed me my diploma and
said, “Lawdy how come!” Either way, the honor was great. It was great to have a
degree and I couldn’t wait to get out of the
business and get a real job. Surprisingly, I ranked 29th in a class
In June of 1981, at the age of 34, I moved to Chattanooga and enrolled in Tennessee Temple University. I would pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Religious Education. I had a “promise” of a job making chicken feeders at Cumberland Farms, but they were furloughing workers when I arrived.
then, the Tennessee Valley Authority advertised that they were going to hire
and train emergency response teams for all four of their nuclear power plants.
You needed to be Firefighter,
have a four year degree… oh, and pass a physical agility test. The team would
have three experienced EMT/Firefighters,
an Assistant Unit Operator, an Electrician and a Pipe Fitter. We would all be
crossed trained in the other’s skills. Hellooooo TVA!
December 1992, I moved back to Sanford and married my sister’s best friend,
Cheryl. Now they are sisters and we are best friends. I took advantage of my
degree, years of emergency service and became the Safety/Risk Manager at Act
Corporation in Daytona Beach.
I earned my safety certification and state
license as a Health Care Risk Manager while working there. Tragically, my
“miracle” son Corey was killed in an accident in March. He was seventeen. Act
Corporation is a mental health agency and working there was beneficial for me
during this time.
five years of experience on the prevention side of safety and risk, I moved to
Daytona Beach Community College, now Daytona State College. I worked for DSC
for eight years and watched the campuses grow and the safety program bloom. I served two terms as president of the Professional constituency.
preparing to travel to a conference for college risk managers in
, I saw
the ad for a Risk Manager/Safety Officer’s position at the Utilities Commission
Antonio, Texas . While
serving on the Board of Directors for the Safety Council, I was familiar with
the employee that previously held the position and knew that there would be a
lot of work to do. Still, I felt that it was in my best interest to apply. New Smyrna Beach
While preparing to travel to a conference for college risk managers in
The HR Director called
when I returned from
asked me to interview for the job. The day after the interview she offered me
the job. Wow, what a decision. Not really. When I handed my resignation to my
supervisor I told him that employees do not leave good institutions, they leave
bad managers. Within months, the other two managers in my department also
ten years of previous experience in the utilities industry and saw a lot of
unnecessary this world as an
I believe that there is no such thing as an accident, everything is predictable
and preventable. I had real peace about taking this job, but I asked God for a
I asked him to bless the Utilities Commission and its employees like he
did for Joseph when he went to Egypt. Bless everything we do and keep us safe.
course, I know that I am not Joseph (not even close). But God is the same God!
And God is still in the people business. He truly blessed the Utilities
Commission the six years I was there. He delights in doing anything that brings
glory and honor to himself and to his Son, Christ Jesus.
don’t care if I’m shoveling coal or pig slop in
attending a conference in a fine hotel. I want to be exactly where God wants me
to be! Cheryl reminds me often, “You’re a lucky man.” Absolutely! Pennsylvania
I have learned the secret of being
content in any and every situation, whether well
fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through
him who gives me strength.
friend Chuck Kent said, “If you see anything good in me, you’re looking at
Jesus. If you see anything else, you’re looking at me.” I’m sure you’ve seen
more of me than you’ve needed to see.Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a
cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so
easily beset us, and let us run
with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and
finisher of our faith; who for
the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is
set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1 – 2
George C. Markos, Retired –
Executive Director for Fishmore & Dolittle