Fred Bullard often has his mind on the ocean. While he isn’t “a son of a son of a sailor,” as the Jimmy Buffett song goes, sailing is something he would like to spend more time doing. Actually, Bullard is the grandson of a train conductor. Instead of taking off for the ocean, Bullard spends most days managing the Courtyard by Marriott in Alcoa. When asked what impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, he would do if given the chance, Bullard was quick to answer. “Sail, I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean and always wanted to take a long sailing trip but have never done it. I have a friend who just bought a 57-foot Ocean Alexander, so I may get to go.”
His obsession with sailing extends to his reading material. He just finished reading “A Salty Piece of Land,” by Jimmy Buffett. “I’m a big Jimmy Buffett fan. He’s a pretty talented guy, really. I like the stories he weaves, plus I’ve always wanted to be a sailor, so he’s the perfect guy to read.”
Here is Fred Bullard:
•What was your first paying job?
“Lifeguard at Valley High School in Louisville, Ky.”
•What’s your favorite television or movie quote?
“Are you talking to me?” Al Pacino in “Taxi Driver.”
•What are you guilty of?
“Loving sweets. I just have a sweet tooth, and my wife won’t even bring it in the house any more.”
•What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?
“Learn to fly. It’s one of those things I have got a passion for. Some people are scared to fly, but I love it. My father-in-law is supposed to take me gliding.”
•Do you think there is life on other planets?
“Yes. I just think there’s more out there than just us. There has to be.”
•What is your favorite material possession?
“My grandfather’s railroad pocket watch. It was one he had all his life, and he passed it down to my father, and my father passed it down to me. He was a conductor at one time and may have even been an engineer at one time.”
•Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?
“Bill Gates.What he has done with computers has revolutionized how we do business. It has changed everything. He sure has made a difference.”
•What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Modeling in high school and falling on the runway during the show. This was back in the ‘50s and ‘60s, and it was a big show. I took three steps and boom, down I went.”
•What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Loyal. All my old friends and friends I have, I’m loyal to a fault and will do anything for them.”
•When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“A baseball player. I loved watching the Yankees play. That was all that was on Saturdays. I always got to see the Yankees.”
•If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“Be taller. I’m the same height I was when I was in seventh grade. I never grew another inch.”
•What is your passion?
“Golf. I used to be a tennis player, and my knees couldn’t take the pounding. I’ve always been involved in sports. Once you hit that first good shot, you get the bug. Anytime I can, I play. Whether it’s a good day or bad, it’s still a good day to play.”
•With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“Muhammad Ali. Growing up in Louisville, Ky., you had to know who Muhammad Ali was. I’ve ways found him to be a fascinating person. I would love to sit down and talk with him.”
•What do you hate?
“Thieves and liars. Being in my business, you don’t want someone to be a thief.”
•What is the best book you’ve ever read?
“ ‘The Great Gatsby.’ I just liked the book. It caught my attention in high school.”
•Would you travel in space?
“Yes, I just think there’s more out there. Wouldn’t that be a great opportunity? It would be a great adventure.”
•If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“The 1940s. I was always fascinated with that era. I liked the dress. Guys wore hats and suits. I watched a lot of movies about that era. It would be fun.”
•What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“A new set of golf clubs. My wife got those for me.”
•What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Live every day to the fullest. That’s the way she still is.”
•Did you ever get paddled in school and if so, why?
“Yes, for cutting school. I was in high school, a freshman. It wasn’t that hard of a paddling.”
•Who is your hero?
“My father. He started with nothing. He gave me my work ethic.”
•What was your first car?
“A 1954 Ford. I sanded it down to bare metal by hand with sandpaper. My father gave it to me. We took the dents out and painted it sky blue. It was a great car.”
•Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
“It’s half- full. I’m more optimistic.”