The Most Influential Person in My Life (Besides My Mom and Dad)

This is Don Dexter. He was my Radio and TV Broadcasting teacher back when I was 16 and 17 years old at Pikes Peak Community College. On about day number 3 in his class, he kept me and my dopey buddies after class and basically ripped us a new one and told us to grow up. This is college, it's real life, he said. Stop acting like high school student because high school doesn't matter anymore.

I wish I could remember his exact words because those few minutes changed my life immediately and forever. I took classes seriously and for the next two and a half years, I got nothing but straight A's. Don saw something in me and believed in me and encouraged me and yes, paid a little extra attention to me because he could see the effort I put in.

There were some other great teachers at Pikes Peak Community College but Don had the biggest impact on me, without a doubt. He was an impressive person himself, very accomplished and successful. He's played drums on hundreds of songs back in the 60s and 70s and worked with some very big names in music. He played in a band that was on The Tonight Show and he played in Carnegie Hall. He made music videos before music videos were even a thing. And he was a deejay as well. But he never bragged or even talked about much of this.

I found him a few years ago, teaching part time at a University in Denver and I called him to thank him for all he'd done. He said he remembered me and I like to think he did. I'm so glad I reached out to him and got to let him know what he meant to me. I told myself that sometime when I'm in Denver I'm going to take him to lunch.

I thought of him Sunday morning and Googled him and found out he'd passed away a little over a year ago. He was 80 years old and lived an amazing, full and productive life. And I was very glad that I got to thank him for what he'd done for me. He literally changed my life.

Take a minute and think of who changed your life for the better. It was probably a teacher or your parents. Maybe a coach or a scout leader or a pastor. Maybe a neighbor or an aunt.

If you know where they are, write or call them and thank them. If you don't know where they are, find them Reach out to them and thank them. They absolutely will appreciate it and will love to hear it from you. And you will always be happy that you did it.

After all, none of us know how much time we have to do this.

Thank you Mr. Dexter. I will never forget you. My life would be very different without your influence.


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