Can you think back on one person outside your family that stands out on how much you were influenced growing up? I would like to tell you about one in my past. His name is Phillip Dowd. Now that name may not mean much to you but to me, he was a person I saw on a regular basis 5 days a week for a couple of years.

You see Mr. Dowd was my first elementary principal. Mr. Dowd was always at the door to greet you as the school day commenced. And he was always on top of everything that occurred with in the halls or grounds of the school to which he ran.

Our days started the same. Bell rings at 8:15 promptly followed by the playing of a bugle call which informed all that it was time to salute and pledge our flag. Did not realize it at the moment but this was the beginning of many lessons he would teach us through leading by example.

I remember also that there was not a person that would move at this time and there was always a very reverent mood as he made the daily announcements.

You see, back in that time there was respect. He was the authority. You respected him. If you did not, you were going to get it there and again when you got home. But there was no need to worry about that. Almost everyone in the entire school respected him.

He taught me a valuable lesson mid way into my 1st grade year. We had bike racks on the south end of the building. I was running behind one morning and did not properly put my bike in the slot provided. As I was getting into my seat, there goes Mr Dowd with my bike down the hall to the office. At lunch time I had to walk my bike out and display the proper way of securing it before I could eat lunch. I can tell you this much. I never did that again.

He was fair but firm and and always had a smile about him. Even when he was getting on to a kid. He taught us all about fairness in a mixed bag of cultures. He taught us to have the utmost respect for the American Flag and for what it stood for. This must have been a challenge since we were engaged in a nasty war in a place so far away we did not even know where it was.

The late 60's were a challenge for almost everyone. There were that war protests, equal rights were still new to most of us and to a kid, we did not fully understand all of theses things, but Mr. Dowd always seem to steer the school and the students in the right direction.

Yes he taught not only myself but hundreds if not thousands of kids life lessons in his long career which he dedicated his life to early on.

This past week Mr. Dowd passed away. I did however have an opportunity to visit with him before he passed. He still remembered me and even was able to tell me thing or two about my early days of elementary school. So that few minutes of time I spent with him on that evening showed me with out a doubt that he cared.

So a generation in my eyes has passed. There are not too many left of that group who take the time to do as much as he did for us. Too bad.

What life lessons did you learn from your elementary principal?