You and I have been friends here in the Star-Telegram for lots of years. Forty years in fact. And I have loved, and continue to love, every moment of it.
It’s only fitting then that I let you, my friend, in on a little personal secret: Aug. 6, 2017, my dear wife Lynn and I will celebrate 50 years of marriage. And as with most couples who get to that point, we can honestly say, “We’re not sure where all of that time went, but it surely has been fun.”
I grew up in College Station. Lynn grew up on a farm just south of Columbus, Ohio. I started college at Texas A&M majoring in floriculture (greenhouse horticulture). Lynn started college at Ohio State majoring in music education and playing clarinet in the OSU Concert Band.
I’m the one who made the move. Where the A&M floriculture department had three students when I transferred, there were 240 students enrolled at OSU when I got there. How we met isn’t really important for the sake of this discussion, but what matters is that a skilled musician took up with a wannabe plant man, agreed to marry him and raise a family together. We both taught out of college. She taught elementary music in central, then northern Ohio. I taught horticulture at Pioneer Area Vocational High School in Shelby, Ohio — one of the best jobs I ever had.
When Texas A&M called, specifically my longtime friend Bluefford Hancock, project leader with Extension Horticulture, and offered me the job as Dallas County extension horticulturist, I was surprised that Lynn was ready for the big change. Her family dated back several generations to the Ohio farm land, but she saw good things in Texas and eagerly encouraged me to consider the job.
So we moved to the Metroplex, and we’ve been here for the 47 years since. I spent every Friday afternoon on Channel 5 doing a gardening piece alongside Chip Moody, Bobby Wygant and Harold Taft, so Tarrant County soon became a second home.
I left the extension service in 1977 to journey into commercial media horticulture via radio, newspapers, then eventually books, magazines and this thing called the internet. And Lynn has worked alongside me every step of the way.
We were talking to our pastor about our recommitment ceremony a couple of weeks ago. One of the things we both stressed is that we hope that when people think of one of us, that they will think of both of us together. Lynn and I are a team. I’ve already said that it’s been that way as we’ve taken our life career path. You always saw both of us at our old All Texas All Garden Shows. It’s been that way as we’ve raised our children.
It’s been that way as we’ve worked for our chosen not-for-profits like Avenues Counseling Center (formerly McKinney Council on Substance Abuse), Serenity High, McKinney Education Foundation, The Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney and the Denton State Supported Living Center (formerly the Denton State School). We work best as a team. Lynn provides the good looks and intellect. I provide the labor.
Lynn has served our hometown of as a member of the board of trustees of the McKinney school district for 34 years. Education is bred into her soul. Three of our four parents taught all of their lives. We both taught. She is an advocate for great teachers, for fine arts, for gifted and talented (a group that sometimes gets overlooked in the process of helping other populations), for those who struggle with challenges of substance abuse, and for yet other causes with which I’m not totally aware. She has served on the Texas Association of School Boards board of trustees, and she is a former Citizen of the Year for McKinney.
Speaking horticulturally, I chose an oak when I married 50 years ago: a strong leader of beauty and durability. Together we have raised three children. Brian, our eldest, among other business ventures, is a skilled statistician who does broadcast stats for the Brian Estridge/John Denton team doing TCU Horned Frog football games. As you tune in this fall, you’ll hear his name called. Brian and Tina have four wonderful children.
Our middle child, Todd, worked at CNN for many years, serving five of those years as Larry King’s producer. He speaks so highly of Larry, and they remain great friends to this day, long after Larry’s retirement. Todd and his wife, Jen, now work in television in Los Angeles. Todd is a senior video producer for the NFL Network.
Our daughter, Erin, has three wonderful boys and lives in the Metroplex. She works long hours at her job and is a dedicated employee who tackles her tasks assertively.
If you did your math correctly, there are seven grandkids, otherwise known as the seedling trees in the Sperry forest, and they’re all living and growing where we can see them quite often.
God has been really good to Lynn and me. As we gather with family and a few really close friends, we will celebrate all of life’s blessings and give our great thanks. Being allowed to write for you for all these years is one of those blessings, and I am very grateful.
To my wife: Happy 50th, Lynn. I love you!