Age: 79 years young
Family: Married for 54 years to Margaret, known as Peggy. “I have 4 adult daughters and 8 granddaughters. My daughters are Nancy Welch, Patsy Boss, Leyanne Harper and Susan Ruelle.”
Career: Retired teacher and coach.
“I taught school and coached beginning in 1954 at Greenback High School for 2 years. I had one year at Everett High School teaching math. In 1957 I was employed by the Alcoa City Schools and taught science and coached basketball and golf. In 1968 I became the principal of Springbrook School and, in 1971, became the first principal of the Alcoa Elementary School. I retired in 1986. After retirement, I spent several years in television on Channel 3, broadcasting football and basketball games for Alcoa High School and hosting the program ‘Profiles of Blount County.’ “ Here is Dick Abbott:
What was your first paying job?
“I mowed lawns to get money to go swimming at the Alcoa Swimming pool. But my first real important job was at the north plant rolling mill of the Aluminum Company of America. It was during the summer between my junior and senior years in high school.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?
“Play the top 10 golf courses in the world.”
What’s your favorite television or movie quote?
“Rhett Butler’s comment to Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone With the Wind’ at the end of the movie.”
What are you guilty of?
“I’m guilty of forgetfulness. Amazingly, it is increasing with age. Faces remain familiar but names escape me.”
What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?
“I’ve been to a number of countries in Europe and Asia but have never visited Greece. I would love to visit Greece and see the sights of the country. Greece is a country that has influenced the world with their language and culture.”
Do you think there is life on other planets?
“Yes, and I would like to know what that life looks like.”
What is you favorite material possession?
“My golf clubs.”
What are you reading currently?
“A book entitled ‘Then Sings My Soul,’ by Robert J. Morgan. It relates the derivation of many of my favorite hymns.”
Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?
“Billy Graham, because of the millions that he has spoken to and the influence he has had on peoples around the world. He has also been a counselor to several presidents during his life time.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“I’ve been embarrassed many times by my good friend and relative Clint Abbott. We had opportunities while we were yet in the Alcoa School System of attending meetings together. As Clint would introduce himself, he would say ‘I’m Clint Abbott,’ then point to me and say, ‘And that’s my daddy.’”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“I would hope it would be ‘fair.’ I would like to think that a number of people, young and old, with whom I have been associated during my time, would say ‘he is a fair man.’”
If you could change on thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I should be more patient.”
What is your passion?
“My family -- my wife of 54 years, my four daughters and their husbands. My eight wonderful granddaughters: Molley Welch, Lauren, Abbie, Marianna and Evan Harper, Katie and Julia Ruelle, and Jennifer Boss. They’re all beautiful and wonderful girls.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“Dwight D. Eisenhower. I would love to ask him questions about decisions he made in World War II, and as president of the United States.”
What do you hate?
“Hate is a terrible word. May I say that I dislike very much those who leave their shopping carts in spaces designed for parking at the various markets around town?”
What is you all-time favorite movie?
“ ‘Donavan’s Reef’ with John Wayne. In fact I like all of John Wayne’s movies.”
What is the best book you’ve read?
“I liked ‘D-Day’ by Stephen E. Ambrose. Ambrose wrote about Ken Russell’s contribution in his books. Ken Russell was a good friend of mine.”
Would you travel in space?
“No, because I haven’t lost anything out there.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“The week of Aug. 15, 1945, and celebrate once again the ending of World War II. I was on Broadway in downtown Maryville that day and witnessed a large group of wildly happy people. I wish it were like that today.”
What character in a book or movie would you most like to be?
“George Bailey played by Jimmy Stewart in ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’ “
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“A complete Boy Scout uniform at the age of 12 that my sister, Dorothy Abbott, gave me. She would later be my fifth grade teacher, a wonderful lady.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Be good. I hope I have honored her.”
Did you ever get paddled in school?
“Yes, by my fifth grade teacher and sister, Dorothy Abbott. She informed me before the start of the school year that I should call her Miss Abbott rather than ‘Dot.’ One day on the playground at recess we were playing ball. She always would play with us. This particular time she had the ball, and I called to her ‘Hey Dot, throw it to me.’ She did, and it wasn’t the ball.”
Who is your hero?
“Vernon Osborne. I was most fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Coach O. at Alcoa High School. He was a great coach with a great win-loss record at Alcoa. But he would be my hero because of the impact he had on the young people he came in contact with while at Alcoa, a great Christian man.”
What was your first car?
“A 1936 Chevrolet green coupe with a rumble seat.”
Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
“The glass is half-full, and I would surely like to fill-er up.”