52 Faces: 5/52 – Jacob

My brother, Jacob, is honestly one of the most laid-back and genuine people you could ever encounter. I’ve often said that he is the reason why we hardly ever fought when we were growing up. For every tendency of mine to be overbearing, overly dramatic or adamant to have things my way, he is equally calm, patient and often puts the needs/wants of others before his own desires. This is, in no small part, why he is now such a great husband and father. 

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Hometown:  Century, FL. Currently residing in Madison, AL.

Education:  Bachelor’s Degree in Physics, from Auburn University; Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Auburn University; just a few credits shy of a PhD in Plasma Physics from Rice University (don’t even get Marina started on the fact that he didn’t finish…for the record, I’m #teamJacob on that one.)

Occupation: Test Engineer at Marshall Space Flight Center. He puts loads on rocket parts to make sure they will not break during flight.

Personal:  Married to Lindsay for 8 years. Dad to Helen (6), Elizabeth (4) and Maxwell (22 months).

Fun Facts:  He once got in trouble in middle school for picking a lock to a classroom with a thick blade of grass…his reason for wanting access was innocent…he just wanted to get his books. His many hobbies include playing rugby, violin, woodworking, hunting, fishing, cooking, whiskey making, gardening, archery, blacksmithing and rocketry.

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What is one of your first memories?- “Being in the backyard of Ms. Gann’s house, our babysitter. There were several of us that she kept during the day…and I remember the garbage man coming by on trash day. We would run to the fence and shake it, chanting ‘We want toys!’..I’m not sure how it started. But, sometimes he would give us little rubber balls or hot wheels.”

Growing up, who was the stricter parent?- “Can’t choose one, off the top of my head..the only thing I remember getting in trouble for at home was not finishing my homework. But, I do remember being at MawMaw’s house and her threatening to use the peach tree switch on the top of the fridge if any of us got out of line.”

What’s a memory you have of growing up with me?- “I remember dad letting us put on raincoats to go play in the front yard during one of the (not too serious) hurricanes. We would spread our arms out and pretend like the wind was going to take us away. Mom wasn’t too thrilled to discover what we were doing…”

And, your most memorable vacation as a kid?- “When I was 10 or 11, we went on a cross country road trip with our Showalter Grandparents and Mom. I remember loving the Grand Canyon..and the image of a mountain goat perched on one of the cliffs there stuck with me. During the same trip we also ventured into Mexico for a day, which was fun…you talked Mom into buying you a sombrero.”

If you could go back to any age, what would it be?- “I’d go back to being around six years old. I remember loving hiding in cabinets at that age…it was one of the simple pleasures of childhood. Six years old is great because you are capable of doing a lot more than when you were smaller, but you don’t yet have much responsibility or concern for the future.”

How did you decide on a field of study/career?- “When I was younger, I read a series of books by Isaac Asimov about physics..I guess I was between 8-10 years old. They were called ‘How Did We Find Out About _____?’. Each one had a different topic, ex: ‘How Did We Find Out About Electricity?’.”

What was your first job?- “My first real job was when I was a student at Auburn. I was a student programmer for the physics department. I wrote code that took data from a satellite and analyzed and made pictures from it. It was called ‘IMAGE’ which stood for ‘Imager for Magnetopause to Aurora Global Explorer.”

How are you like your father and/or grandfather?- “I think Dad and I both share a love of nature. I think that, physically, I am a lot like Granddaddy Showalter.”

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What are your 3 best qualities?- “That’s hard…I would say that I am intelligent, responsible and resourceful.”

And, your 3 worst?- “I can be sarcastic/irreverent, I’m somewhat of a procrastinator, I start too many projects at once.”

What is your favorite book?- “I have a LOT, but I really love Jonathan Livingston’s ‘The Seagull’. It’s uplifting.”

Would you prefer to know the future as it relates to your descendants specifically, or the fate of mankind in general?- “I guess I’d rather know the future of humanity…because I’m an optimist, and a general knowledge of our future has a better chance to make me proud. There’s a 50/50 chance that specifically knowing the future of my descendants would either be favorable or disappointing.”

What’s one thing that you have always wanted, but still don’t have?- “A motorcycle.”

Who do you most depend on and trust?- “That’s easy. My wife.”

If you could solve only one problem in the world, what would it be, and why?- “I would figure out a way to harness nuclear fusion as an energy source. It could provide energy for humanity indefinitely.”

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52 Faces: 4/52 – Roy

The next person in my 52 Faces series is my dad. I’ve written about him before, which you can find here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: Roy.

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Hometown: McDavid, FL

Education: B.S. in Forest Management from Auburn University

Occupation: Happily Retired…now pursuing all of his hobbies without the hinderance of a 9-5. He is a tender of chickens, lover of nature and animals, avid gardener, motorcycle tinkerer/rider, wonderful musician, nature guide to anyone who asks…and also a happy host to absolutely any friend of mine that should cross his path.

Personal: Married to my mom, Marina, for 39 years. He and my mom met in their early teens, and to hear him tell it, he’s been smitten with her since day one. If anyone wants a lesson on how to love someone with wreckless abandon, you should take notes from my dad. He is the dad to my brother (Jacob) and I. Poppa to Helen, Elizabeth, Maxwell and Adelaide.

Fun Facts:  The youngest of five children, he was the president of his high school senior class. After high school, he went to Jump School at Fort Benning with the US Army, 82nd Airborne Division…willingly jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. After his time in the Army, he married my mom and moved to Auburn to get a degree in Forestry. They eventually settled down in Century, FL, just a short drive north from where he grew up…and the next few decades were spent raising my brother and I. Once we had flown the nest, my parents bought some land in Brewton, AL…on a gorgeous creek, with an unfortunate name (Murder Creek). There they built an amazing house, and now spend much quality time on the various porches…listening to birds, sipping a cold drink, grilling delicious dinners, keeping company with their dog (Jenkins) cats and chickens…and welcoming any friends or family who should come their way.

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What is your first, most vivid memory?- “Playing in the yard at Maw’s house..my mother’s mom…while she shelled pecans for us.”

What was your first job?- “When I was young, I delivered papers for the News Journal. I also worked in the ice house in Atmore, AL. We pulled ice and delivered it…to places like the vegetable markets that needed ice to cool their produce for shipment on the railroad.”

What made you want to become a forester?- “I always liked the natural world, so a career like that appealed to me. I had a high school science teacher and counselor named Ann C. Hall. She graduated with my daddy…she was valedictorian, and he settled for salutatorian (even though they had the same grade point average). Her husband, Mr. Key, was a forester who also served in the 82 Airborne Division in WWII. I was one of five kids, and there wasn’t a lot of extra money…but, I knew I wanted to go to school, even though I wasn’t ready. Mrs. Ann encouraged me to enlist in the Army, and that I could try to go into the Airborne (which I did). That enabled me to get a college education in Forestry.”

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted, but still don’t have?- “I don’t wish for a whole lot of things, so I don’t really know of anything I’m longing for.”

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You always have a great joke, saying or life lesson to share. Give me one.- “Well, I was telling your mom the other day to beware of the clowns and chameleons in life. The clown will want you to think that they are someone that they are not. The chameleon will change, depending on where he is. Clowns and chameleons: you gotta watch ’em.”

Who is someone you greatly admire, and why?- “That’s hard, I admire a lot of people..so, it’s hard to pick one above all of the rest. But, if you’re asking me to name one, I guess I’d say Mother Teresa. It didn’t matter how dangerous or unpopular something might be…she was going to go and do it, if it helped someone. And, unlike a lot of folks, who like to sing their hymns but are really trying to lay up wealth…well, I don’t think a piece of gold would have meant much at all to Mother Teresa.”

Do you have a favorite quote?- “Do what you can…with what you have…where you are…in the time that you have.”

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