Chat Room - Bob Booker

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By Lance Coleman

Bob Booker grew up just south of Nashville in Wrigley, Tenn. The 44-year-old graduated from MTSU with a degree in industrial management and is now with Denso Manufacturing Tennessee. He came to East Tennessee when he went to law school at the University of Tennessee. After graduating and passing the bar on his first try, Booker worked with Lockheed Martin and then the Tennessee Environmental Protection Agency. Then he came to Blount County and started with Denso Manufacturing. He has been with Denso almost 13 years. He is manager of three different areas in the company, including legal services, environmental engineering and public relations/communications.

Booker is vice president of Little River Water Shed Association, and on the board of directors for Keep Blount Beautiful and
the Chamber of Commerce. He is an adjunct professor at UT.

"Probably the one I’m most proud of is I’m a member of First Baptist Church Maryville," Booker says.

When he’s not at work, Booker spends time on his boat on Tellico Lake. "It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen," he says. "I think Tellico is a rare combination of water, mountains and lots of natural beauty mixed with a lot of friendly folks."

Here is Bob Booker:

What was your most embarrassing moment?
"As a freshman at a new high school, passing out in 100 degree temps during my first day of summer football practice and having to be carried off the field. I ate about 50 salt pills before practice the next day (we thought they were good for you then). It was tough to go back."

Why did you pursue the career you chose?
"I chose this career because it is very challenging and rewarding. I get to help protect jobs, preserve our environment and lead others in an attempt to make our company and community better."

What was your first paying job?
"Chasing down foul balls at a ballpark in the summer. I got a dime per ball. There wasn’t a great future in it."

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
"Competitive. I think healthy competition often brings out the best in people."

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Booker wanted to be second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds.

What’s the best thing about Blount County?
"The people. You will not find nicer people anywhere. I am impressed with our community’s vision for the future. Many places are more reactive and less proactive than Blount County."

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
"Just let me be 6’6" and able to dunk for one Parks and Rec basketball game."

What is your passion?
"Trying to enjoy life and constantly improving myself."

To what do you attribute your success?
"I was fortunate to have parents who loved me, good teachers and professors who taught me and four years as a military officer to help shape me. I have had good friends and mentors at Denso who have helped me a lot."

With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
Booker chose John F. Kennedy. "As a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer, I would love to talk to him about the Cuban Missile Crisis."

What do you hate?
"Wasting time. As I get older I am more aware of how precious time is."

What’s your favorite quote?
"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Abraham Lincoln

What do you do to relax or for fun?
"Being on Tellico Lake at sunset; you will not find a more relaxing place. Golfing - it is even more fun if you win every now and then. I especially enjoyed a team victory over (Assistant County Mayor) Dave Bennett and Dale Huddleston one morning."

What is your dream vacation?
"Renting a boat and cruising around the Caribbean."

Rebels, Tornadoes, Mountaineers or Governors?
"I like them all, but I was formerly a Big Brother at Heritage Middle School."

What is your all-time favorite movie?
" ‘Forest Gump.’ It mixed history, human spirit, courage and humor all into one film."

What is the best book you’ve ever read?
Booker says the best book he’s ever read is "The Purpose Driven Life."

If you won a big lottery jackpot, what is the charitable donation you would make and how would you splurge?
"I would love to build a building where all our important non-profit organizations, such as Keep Blount Beautiful and the Little River Watershed Association, would have a nice permanent home." To splurge, Booker says he would like to have a boat big enough to be a real member of the Vol Navy.

Would you travel in space?

If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
"July 1776. Wouldn’t it be great to see our nation’s founders at work?"

What character in a book or movie would you most like to be?
Booker says he would want to portray Elliot Ness in the movie "The Untouchables."

If you couldn’t live in Blount County, where would you like to live?
"The U.S. Virgin Islands sound good about this time of the year. No frost warnings there."

Who has been the best United States president of the last 100 years and why?
"Ronald Reagan. He brought pride back to our military and did a lot to help us win the Cold War."

Coke or Pepsi?
"Diet Coke. I need to shed a few pounds."

What is your favorite sport and your favorite sports team?
"I enjoy watching college football and the Vols and the Colts are my favorite teams."

If you were King for a Day, what edict would you immediately pass?
"I think every 18 - 20 year old should be required to do some kind of community/national service. You don’t have to bring back the military draft, but our national parks, veteran’s hospitals, schools and many organizations need volunteers."

What is your favorite animal and why?
"Dogs. They are always happy to see you come home, no matter how late you are."

What is the best present you ever received?
"An army uniform, with a helmet, when I was about 4. They said I would not take it off for three days. "

What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
"Listen to older people. They have often made the mistakes you want to avoid."

Did you ever get paddled in school and if so, why?
"Once -- for throwing rocks at a metal sign with a buddy on the playground in second grade. I missed the sign and hit a car."

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