As we celebrate time day of Thanksgiving it is more than gratitude for a well-cooked meal that comes to mind. One thing for me, is the faces and memories of the people that I have met and learned from over the years. One of the sweetest people that I have met in my life was a former resident that was known for many things. Mr. Fred Whitman was a devoted Christian, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, serviceman, business owner, Lakeside School fan, Auburn fan and friend. Now he was many other things to many other people…but I thought I would start with this list. Mr. Fred “forgave” me for being a fan of the Crimson Tide and graduating from the University of Alabama when he learned that I did at least attend Auburn University on scholarship for one year. He was the type of person that made you feel important, but would enjoy “picking” at you too.
He once told me the story of how he recommended a hard-working and reliable employee for a future opportunity by answering the prospective employer on a background check call by saying, “hurry up and hire him before someone else does!” I will admit (because of his story) that now when it has been appropriate, I have given that same recommendation for deserving former employees that have moved on to other career paths. When I speak those words, I smile and think of the source. Mr. Fred was the type of person that made you want to try and be a better person. One of his favorite past times was bringing milkshakes to some of his friends. He wouldn’t get one himself, no for him it was a Diet Coke. But he truly had a heart for people.
He taught me the importance of encouraging others. Shortly after I met him, I don’t think he missed an opportunity to attend a dance recital or any other performance for my daughter Ella Grace. He knew it was important to take time out for others. On this Thanksgiving Day, take a moment and reflect. Give thanks for all those who have made a difference in your life. Think about the people that have taught you important lessons and act upon them. No, we won’t always get it right. We are human. That isn’t going to happen. But life is short, take time to do for others and be a blessing to someone else.
Mr. Fred Whitman and Ella Grace Bradley at Lakeside School Homecoming 2012.