I was born Thursday, 5 p.m. January 19, 1939 (10# 4 oz.) in Graves County, Kentucky—it probably was a kool day. My birthplace was a country store that was both our home and my parents business. Our store was squarely on the state line. My birthplace was in the bedroom and that was in Kentucky. If I had been born on the other side of the house, I would have been born in Tennessee.
I was born with certain gifts that serve me well, but often drive my friends nuts. I am patient, detail oriented, and persistent. Furthermore, I try to do the right thing even if it upsets others.
In 1942 we left Kentucky, and moved to Detroit where Dad worked in an automobile plant that had been converted for the war effort. We were there three years when Dad got the “itch” for the hills of Kentucky. In 1945, after the war, we returned “home” where he tried his hand at farming.
Our house was without electricity or plumbing, and we drew drinking water from a cistern. My mother cooked on a wood burning stove. For laundry she used homemade lye soap, and heated the water in a cast iron kettle over burning coals. That was anything but kool. And p.s. we never called a repairman because we had nothing that could break—nothing we couldn’t fix, anyway!
As an eight-year-old, young Dr. Kool would climb around the attic pulling string, pretending he was an electrician … until he had a painful encounter with a wasp. In 1948, thanks to President Truman, we finally got electricity.
Dad didn’t do well as a farmer, so in the Fall of 1948, the family returned to Detroit. One year later at age 10, I got my first job delivering newspapers. Later I got a larger route which increased my weekly income from 7 to 17 dollars. I worked as a paper boy for six years.
During the week, I delivered papers after school. On weekends, I worked after dark, Saturday evening and early Sunday morning before church. When the weather was wet, cold, or icy I never expected to be rescued by an adult with a car. I rode a bicycle which was often overloaded—no helmet! Lord knows how many times the bike went down, while I was left standing. From my paper route I learned to be a disciplined worker.
I was the second of seven children. Dad died in 1953 when I was fourteen—Mom had her hands full! Every dollar was needed, but we got lots of help from other members of our church. It really was a blessed time, but my mother would have questioned that.
A Refugee From Academia
I am a graduate of Wilbur Wright Vocational High School in Detroit. While in high school I worked a co-op job that paid $1/hr.—that was in 1955. I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, second in my class.
In 1957, I enrolled at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan. Four years later I was awarded a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. I have always done well academically, and finished in the top 10% of my class.
Next, I completed the master’s degree in metallurgical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
I worked for General Motors and then for Great Lakes Steel, but I still hadn’t found my niche. Then I tried teaching, first at Detroit Institute of Technology, and then at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX.
While teaching, I had been studying for the doctorate, but in 1983 with only the dissertation remaining, I became Dr. Kool the AC repairman and contractor. And guess what? I’m back in the attic—right where I was at age 8, but this time with real wires and pipes.
Dr. Kool, The Christian
In June, 1979 I attended a week-long, Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar featuring Bill Gothard. I can’t explain what happened during that week, but at the end I had this overwhelming feeling that nothing was more important than pleasing the Lord.
I soon discovered a down-to-earth way of pleasing the Lord—serving others. As I have said elsewhere, my conviction is this: If I take care of the needs of my family and my customers, if I show compassion to others, the Lord will look after me. Since then, my life has been abundant and full.
July 4, 1970 I married Theresa Marie, the love of my life. Four years later, January 28, 1974, the Lord gave us Deborah Ruth. She turned out to be so much like her father that her mother sometimes feels the two of us are ganging up on her. Living with these ladies, I have discovered how the Lord uses individuals in a family to complement one another.