(As told by Mrs. Myers)
My name is Virginia Anne Babcock Myers.
I was born on July 25, 1934, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, the fourth of four children. My mother and father were Mildred and William A. Babcock.
My dad earned his living as an accountant, but his real love was his second job - covering the local sports events as sports writer for the Parkersburg newspaper. Life at the Babcock house was never far removed from whatever sport was in season - and the love of sports was contagious. All of the Babcock children inherited this love of sports. In order to be able to add his colorful comments about the high lights of the games, my dad spent many hours on the road attending various events after putting in long hours at his day job. As the years went by, my mom grew increasingly concerned about these long lonely drives. I frequently drew the assignment of going with him. As a result, while other girls learned how to bake bread and do things about the house, I learned how to keep statistics at baseball and basketball games. Once, while home on vacation from college, I was even asked to substitute for my dad as the official score keeper at a semi-professional baseball game at a near-by town. This made my dad very proud and his pride made me happy. This heritage of loving sports and believing in the concepts taught on the playing field (fair play and the importance of working as a team) has never gone away from me, my brother, or my sister.
My mom not only cared for her home and her family, but she was active in all sorts of activities in the community. One of the earliest memories that I have of her is seeing her dressed in her civil defense uniform going out on patrol for air raid drills during World War II. That was typical. She gave freely of her time and talents to many organizations and served as president of several groups. I can remember my mom on the go and doing things, but more than that I also have never forgotten her attitude of standing up for what she believed to be right. For instance, as president of the YWCA, she campaigned successfully in a not too popular move to bring full membership privileges of that organization to the black women of the city. Her involvement in community affairs made her a role model for all of us.
Another trait that both of my parents modeled was that of being hard workers. I think that came of surviving the depression, but they also continued to work long after others of their age group began resting in retirement homes. In fact, many people who worked with them were surprised when discovering their ages. The fact that they never acted old always made them seem much younger than their actual age.
Unfortunately, the place where my dad worked as an accountant had a mandatory retirement policy at age 65. So, he was forced into retirement by that company. After such a busy life, he was miserable. So when he had an offer of another accounting job in Michigan, he and mother began a new life in Michigan. It did not take long for Western Michigan University to find him. He soon became associated with their sports program. One day at age 73, after working all day, he covered a baseball game for the school before going home - even though he really did not feel up to par. He died that night. I know that he would not have wanted it any other way. Similarly, my mom kept up with her community work during her latter years and focused on her work at the church during these years.
Nothing too exciting happened to me while I was growing up. The kids might enjoy knowing that I was thin as a rail and my nickname was "Skinny Ginny". I was not a bookworm, but I liked school - as long as it did not involve anything that required me to speak in front of a group. Oral book reports were a major trauma. I had a stuttering problem that lasted until I was in college. People who knew me then would believe it was truly a miracle that I could later actually enjoy giving a commencement address to a whole field house full of people. It would please me if that gave some encouragement to someone who might be having similar problems. The only thing of possible note is that I was editor of my high school newspaper.
I graduated from high school in 1952 and from West Virginia University in 1956. I majored in History and hoped to utilize my love of research and analysis as an archivist for the National Archives in Washington, D.C. I took a Civil Service test with this in mind. The National Archives was slow in responding, however; so when a job offer was received in the mail from the Air Force to go to work in one of its contracting offices - I accepted. I was just happy to have a job - many people were out of work in West Virginia during these years. And history majors never could be very choosy.
The job required me to move to Dayton, Ohio and my mom helped me get situated there a few days before I had to report to work. Then mom went home, leaving me all alone in Dayton. I was not a bundle of self confidence in those days and I was very anxious about reporting to work. I had never met the people and I had no idea whether I would like really like the job. Already nervous about my first full time job, I really had a shock when the Personnel Director said as he shook my hand: "Wow!!! You are a female!! The folks in contracting are not going to like this." It seems that somehow there had been a mix-up in the Civil Service listing and only males were supposed to have been included. This listing was supposed to supply trainees in a management program. They considered females to be useful as secretaries and clerks, but surely not in an upward mobility slot. Without a face-to-face interview, a mistake had been made. so the Personnel director warned me that I would have to work twice as hard as my male peers if I wanted to keep the job. What a challenge for a shy bean pole with a slight speech impediment.
It could be that this challenge was possibly just what I needed. I did keep that job and despite sometimes encountering others who were unhappy about meeting a female at the negotiation table , I progressed in a career as Contracting Officer for the Air Force. Although I was fighting my battle for being treated as an equal several years before females united in this endeavor, nevertheless I was fortunate. I had several men who served as mentors for me and who fought to promote me despite objections from their superiors. Eventually, I became the highest graded woman in contracting at Kelly AFB and there was even an article in a national paper about me.
My biggest accomplishment in my opinion, however, was not related to my career. That happened when I discovered I was going to be a mother. I had met my husband (Oval E. Myers) in the office at Dayton where he was also a buyer trainee. We wanted a family but for many years it seemed that we were not destined to be parents. Then, Debbie Myers was born in 1968. During this time, I kept working. It was hard to give up a blooming career and that nice paycheck. After Chris was born, however, my husband and I decided that it was time to evaluate our real priorities. We both believed that the children needed a full time mom and I had always known which job was most important to me; but we were reluctant about the changes we might have to make to live on one salary. After much contemplation, I resigned my position to stay home and raise my kids. People at the office said that it would not last. I would surely decide that diapers and home making were not what I wanted out of life. We found out we could indeed live on one salary and never regretted the decision.
There had never been a doubt in my mind that God had put me in this place to be a mother. Now I could concentrate on things that were related to that role. I was available for anything that involved my kids. I became a Sunday School teacher, a PTA volunteer, a Scout leader, the designated driver for whatever activity my kids were involved in, etc. My kids were joiners - all types of sports, band, karate, scouts, whatever. I was able to enjoy it all with them. I became a Brownie leader with a group of second graders and took that group of girls all the way through middle school, and up to their junior year at Holmes High School. In addition to the weekly meetings, and special things like camp-outs, being a Girl Scout leader meant shuffling Girl Scout cookies every year.
It was a natural for me to also become involved in Boy Scouts. My husband never lost his devotion to Boy Scouts from the time he was a scout himself. He involved the Myers' kids in scouting activities and camping with his troops from their toddler years forward. So when the boys became old enough to be Cub Scouts, I joined with them. I worked with my husband while he was Cub master and Scout Leader by being a Den leader and a merit badge counselor until my boys both graduated from Holmes High as Eagle Scouts.
I became a member of the Northside Independent School District (NISD) family when my daughter entered first grade. I knew that I wanted to be a part of the community Debbie was joining at school. I actually volunteered to be active in PTA on that first morning when I walked her to school. As I learned more about the principles of PTA, I became even more convinced that this was my means of becoming involved in a very important partnership. This partnership was the one between parents and teachers in preparing our young people to be resourceful and productive adults. PTA became an important part of my life. For the next several years, I served in many capacities (sometimes several at one time) as a PTA volunteer. I baked cookies, worked carnivals, worked as a parent assistant at the schools, campaigned in front of the school board on issues, and served in various leadership roles. Eventually, I was nominated to be the President of the Northside Council of PTA.
At that same time, a vacancy occurred on the NISD Board of Trustees. It was the responsibility of the School Board to fill the spot until the next regular election. The board members knew about me from my PTA efforts and decided to ask me to fill the vacancy. This action opened a whole new world to me. Here I could not only help kids, a real living priority to me, but I could also be active in the exciting challenge of determining policies that would allow a district which was below average in wealth provide above average learning opportunities. I think you can say I worked hard at being a good School Board member. One thing I always claimed was that I would never accept the role of being a rubber stamp. Accordingly, I probably drove people crazy with my questions. I always tried to make all of the facts about each policy or action available to me and to anyone else who was interested. I also felt a need to serve both parents and teachers. I really believe that you can credit my PTA training for this position. I fought for the teachers while at the same time trying my best to protect the rights of parents to have a voice in the affairs of the district. After serving for several years on the Board, I was elected president of the Board. The election broke a tradition. Many women had served as members, but a woman had never held the position of president. The male dominated board had ensured that a man led the district. Raul Fernandez deserves the credit for giving me the opportunity to be president. He served as my mentor on the board and he led the fight to look beyond the gender issue.
When my children were all grown and the Myers' family was facing the potential of having three kids in college at the same time, we decided it would be good if I could help our financial position by reentering the work scene. After applying unsuccessfully for many jobs - and feeling the rejection of being a middle aged woman with no remarkable skills, I was hired back by the contracting office at Kelly AFB. I worked there until I retired in March 1993.
After enjoying the easy life for a year, I proved that the Babcock blood still ran in my veins when
Raul A. Mendoza contacted me. He was a friend who had retired at the same time from Kelly AFB. He asked me to join him in his efforts to start a small business. The name of his company was Texas Mgt Associates, Inc. and its purpose was to offer engineering and technical services to the Air Force and others. I became Vice President of the company and my responsibilities centered on the financial management of the firm.
I am still involved with church work and I have been able to remain active in NISD by serving as a Business Community representative on the Northside Educational Improvement Council.
If you really want to see pride in my eyes, ask me about my kids.
Debbie Myers received a commission in the Army after graduating from Texas Tech. She currently holds the rank of Major. She is a pilot and is certified to fly both helicopter and fixed wing aircraft. She served as a Blackhawk pilot during Desert Storm. I am so proud of her accomplishments. She has had to work very hard to get where she is. She, too, has taken on a role normally reserved for a man and has had to prove her worth many times over. I like her attitude toward the soldiers who work under her and I like her integrity and ambition. Buddy Myers, who was a UTSA graduate, also works at Texas Mgt Associates, Inc. I am proud of the contributions he has made to the administrative management of the company. He is very industrious and has an ability to be jack of many trades. Soon they will decide they can do without me. He and his wife Jennifer have two children, Maegan and Christopher. My youngest son, Chris Myers, was killed in a motorcycle accident in January 1995. he was a very caring and sensitive young man who loved life. He had just matured into a responsible man with goals in life, when he was taken from us.
I really do not have any hobbies. My children and my work have not allowed me to follow through with things which may have become hobbies; but, I have found time to take advantage of one love. I am a died in the wool Holmes Husky football fan. Actually I continue to enjoy all high school sports. I still believe that boys and girls learn valuable lessons on how to deal with the circumstances of life on the playing field. Teaching academics (Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmetic) are the most important functions of a school system; but learning how to lose with class and win with honor teaches our children the other "R's" - Respect, Restraint, and Responsibility.
I feel that I am a very ordinary person who has received extraordinary blessings from God. Even the tragic death of my son was marked by miracles that clearly displayed God's loving kindness and mercy. I feel all of us should do more than just get by - we should feel compelled to try to make this world a better place because of our actions. I am still working on doing just that. One of those actions will be to try to serve as a good role model for the students at Myers Elementary School.