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Monday, February 14, 2011

Don Doty Leaves the EPB Board of Directors

On the occasion of Don Doty’s departure from the board of Glasgow EPB, it is fitting for us to review the impact he has had on Glasgow in general, and on the EPB in particular. For those of you who know Don, you will already know how much of an impact he had on the direction of the EPB. For those of you who do not know him, this post will attempt to inform you about this man’s work to forge this place we call home.

Surely most of us have seen the award winning movie Patton. While I never knew Gen. Patton, knowing Don Doty has given me a glimpse into what the General must have been like. My favorite line in the movie comes during an exchange between Gen. Omar Bradley and Brig. Gen. Hobart Carver. In the scene Bradley says, “What we really need is... someone tough enough to really pull this outfit together.” Carver responds, “Patton?” Bradley replies, “Perhaps.” Then Carver delivers the line, with a smile, “God help us!” Even though I wasn’t yet out of high school when Don was dispatched to Glasgow to oversee the creation of the Eaton Axle plant in 1971, and I wasn’t yet at the EPB when he took a place on the board in 1982, I am pretty sure those words were also uttered in both instances.

Don Doty came to Glasgow to oversee the design and construction of the Eaton Axle plant. After it was constructed, he took over as Plant Manager and made the facility a shining star in the Eaton universe until it was sold to Dana. That facility provided jobs and a life for thousands of families during his tenure there. In contrast to the management trends for large industries in Glasgow today, Don and Jamie moved here to Glasgow and became part of the fabric of the community. They created a family here and that family too became a part of the community and they continue to serve and improve our corner of the world. After being sent here, Don passed on several opportunities for further advancement because of his dedication to this place he chose to call home. Greater riches were not enough to convince him to abandon the work he was doing in Glasgow, and all of us benefit from his dedication to our community.

In 1982 Don’s interest in the community and his belief that the needs of the very largest of EPB’s customers (Eaton Axle was then the second largest consumer of electric power in Glasgow - in fact, Eaton’s successor, Dana, is still the second largest) should be represented on the EPB board, lead him to seek appointment to the board. Mayor Twyman agreed and appointed Don to fill the unexpired term of Luke Wells in 1982. At that time Glasgow EPB was scarcely twenty years old.

I met Don about a year later when I had dinner with he and Robert Lessenberry and Norma Redford at the old Bolton’s Landing Restaurant. It was supposed to be a job interview, but Don’s presence and his tendency to ask exceedingly difficult questions, for which there was no apparent correct answer, turned it into cruel and unusual punishment for me. Don is an imposing physical and verbal presence. When I was offered the job and I realized I would be working for him and four other board members, I too said, “God help us!”

Over the next twenty eight years, Don Doty provided the wise counsel and leadership, and the steel backbone, that was essential to form the Glasgow EPB that exists today. He helped me learn how to build and maintain a team of professionals. He gave us valuable insight into the workings of a major industry and helped us understand how to serve them well. He provided the rock solid foundation of confidence that made us believe we could conquer the cable television and broadband worlds. He thought us capable of pulling away from TVA and a few years later, when the power business just did not unfold for us as we thought, he was a crucial element of reversing that decision.

Today, as Glasgow EPB looks at its 50th birthday, Don is passing the torch of leadership on to another capable member of our community, Cheryl Berry Ambach. We look forward to her leadership and we feel confident that the EPB will continue to grow in its mission to serve the community during her tenure. But, we will miss Don and wish him well in whatever battle he chooses next. One thing is certain, when he decides what project to take on next, somewhere there will be someone saying, “God help us!”