Roy Exum: A Nudge By Angel Kilbride

Saturday, April 19, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Way above us, high in the heavens, a handsome angel everybody calls Ben yelled to Saint Peter on Thursday and told him, “Better send me a couple of rubies and maybe an amethyst … Dad’s crown just got bigger.” To you such a scenario may sound silly and foolish but Bill Kilbride, a dynamic genius who has just been named as president-elect of Chattanooga’s Chamber of Commerce, knows exactly what I am talking about.

Get this straight: of all the men I have known in my life, Bill Kilbride is on my personal “Top Ten.” When word reached me this week that Chattanooga leaders had chosen Kilbride as the successor to Ron Harr, I’m smart enough to know such a phenomenon doesn’t just happen – nobody in Chattanooga is that smart. There had to be more in play to land Kilbride.

No, the way I have it figured is that those who reside in the heavens know all things and when the popular Harr was forced to resign for health reasons, Ben – the Kilbride’s resident ambassador in heaven – got in a well-timed nudge, knowing his dad was soon retiring from a great career that included helping Jeff Lorberbaum build Mohawk Industries into a Fortune 500 colossus.

The hire is stupendous, as all who know of Kilbride’s unparalleled success on Wall Street and in the business realm will attest, but it is his character, his savvy, and his acumen that make me marvel most and those qualities are what will help Chattanooga rise to dizzying heights, adding industry and jobs through his presence at the Chamber. This is one of those can’t-miss deals!

My goodness, here is a guy who even has a license to guide the biggest ships on the seas – of all things – and he will be superb on his very first day. Chattanooga has just come up with a jewel to rival any of those in the crown Ben is building for his Pop in heaven.

For what it’s worth, Angel Ben was the one who introduced me to Bill, his stunning wife Mary, and their beautiful girls in the fall of 2000, just days after he was tragically killed as a sixth grader at The Bright School. Ben, playing by himself this particular day, was swinging on a rope over a steep hill in Riverview when the utility trailer he was using as a launching pad began to roll down the hill. The 11-year-old tried to stop the run-away trailer but the momentum was too great -- the child was killed instantly when the trailer finally struck a house.

That same afternoon I watched John Thornton fall to pieces at the news (Bill was one of Thunder’s closest friends when together they ruled Tennessee Wesleyan with “Fat Boy”) and as I soon learned how wonderful the Kilbride family truly is, I – a total stranger -- wrote a letter of condolence. Enough of a friendship soon blossomed in a way where I have kept up with the family ever since so, trust me, Kilbride’s hire by the Chamber will go down in history as the greatest since the Cardinals signed Musial.

This is a bonafide case of Divine Intervention if ever there was one and I am giddy over what I know will soon be taking place. We’ll have to pick and choose what corporations will want to come here!

* * *

This is a big day for former University of Tennessee swimmer Nicole Gross … no, it will be huge. One year ago she and her sister were in Boston, waiting for her mom at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, when the bombs went off. Her sister had a leg blown away and injuries to Nicole were horrifying.

In the past year Nicole has endured ten surgeries on her legs, her eardrum has been repaired and there are still ten staples in her abdomen. She’s even had to learn to walk, this in addition to the terrible trauma she’s overcome, but today she’s taking part in a 5-kilometer walk with some other survivors before Monday’s 26.2-mile event will resume.

“I’m going to be at the back of the line instead of the front,” she told reporters, “but that’s fine with me. I don’t mind the change, because the person I was before was very Type A, very focused, with blinders on. Now I’m open to see the world in a different way. It’s been good for me both emotionally and physically.”

Her mom, Carol Downing, will run the big race again on Monday and the whole family will gather again at the finish line. That’s Boston strong!

* * *

The Chattanooga Times Free Press ran a front-page splash over the fact Chattanooga has just been ranked as one of the unhealthiest communities in the country on Friday. Do you think they’ll do the same thing after USA Today had a front-page notice in its weekend editions that Chattanooga was named as the highest “Bible-minded” city in the country?

Chattanooga scored 51 percent on a meter that gauges metro populations who had read the Bible and believe strongly in its accuracy. Birmingham was close behind at 50 percent while the lowest were Albany, N.Y. (10%) and Providence, RI (9 %)

Oh well. Hoppy Easter.

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