On May 31, 1957, two hundred and eighty two of us graduated from Enid High School as the Class of 1957. I don’t remember a lot about that day but being the emotional person I am, I do remember that for me, it was filled with tremendous highs and lows. I was happy to have gained my independence but sad at the thought of leaving my special friends, knowing that things would never again be the same for us. We’d all go our separate ways, be scattered to various parts of the world and would probably never see each other again.
I had received my high school diploma but really didn’t have a clue as to what I would do with my life.
I went to work for Francis I. DuPont, a brokerage firm in Enid and I have to admit that I thought I had landed on another planet. I had entered a world where no one spoke the language that I had been taught in school. In the land of DuPont, they talked about the Dow Jones Average (which was hovering around 500) blue chip stocks, bonds, commodities, symbols, charts, ups, downs, margins, puts, calls, shorts and P.E. ratios. As an 18 year old, this was all foreign to me and in the beginning, all I could think of was escaping that crazy world but fortunately, I persevered and by the time I left DuPont in 1959, I could talk “the bulls and the bears” with the best of them. I worked for DuPont for two years and received an education in finance that would interest and benefit me the rest of my life.
In September 1957, I met 1st Lieutenant, Leon Jerald Cock, a native of Meadows of Dan, Virginia. (Blue Ridge Mountain country….beautiful!) He had graduated from Virginia Military Institute (with a Civil Engineering degree) and was stationed at Vance Air Force Base as a pilot. We were married in 1959 at the West Side Baptist Church in Enid.
In 1960, Leon resigned his commission from the Air Force and went to work for Alcoa Aluminum in Houston, Texas. While Leon worked for Alcoa, I attended Houston Baptist University.
For nearly five years, we were happy, snug and secure in Houston but beginning in 1965 (and for the next three years) Alcoa made a full time job of transferring us from Alameda and Pleasant Hills, California to Murrysville and Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania and then to Dallas, Texas. Finally, to our delight, in November 1968, we were sent to Riverside, California.
In Riverside, I went to work for the owner of a shopping center development company. I was responsible for advertising and marketing the shopping centers that were built by that company. Over the span of the next twenty years, I worked as Assistant Manager – Director of Marketing for three major shopping centers, each growing larger and with more responsibility than the last. I had started my career in strip or neighborhood centers of about 20,000 square feet of retail space, with ten to fifteen stores and twenty years later, I ended my career as Assistant Manager -Director of Marketing of a two level, super regional l,500,000 square foot shopping center with two hundred and fifty stores.
When one markets a shopping center, it is his responsibility to bring customers to the center though advertising and through special events. I loved the advertising, especially the supervision of shooting television commercials but promotional events were really my forte. These events are comprised of various things., from merchandising events, to community events to traffic building events etc. Being so close to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, many of our traffic building events, included special guest appearances of celebrities, either in fashion shows, autograph signing sessions, musical shows or special appearance events. Through these various events, I was able to work, with celebrities that I had only seen on television, in the movies or in the theatre. All in all, I worked ONE on ONE, with over 50 stars such as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jane Powell, Vanessa Redgrave, Ginger Rogers, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Rosemary Clooney and nearly ALL of the Lawrence Welk singers and dancers.
In reflecting on my career, I would say the highlight was when The International Council of Shopping Centers, (the shopping center trade organization, consisting of 60,000 members) asked me to organize and preside over a super fashion show, to be presented from the stage of The Grand Show Room of the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, the stage where Elvis performed during his career. I was given an unlimited budget and was able to hire the finest musicians, singers, dancers and models whose talents made for a special production. The show was attended by 2500 members of my profession and was a tremendous success.
While in the shopping center business, I took a two year correspondence course in Interior Design and received an Interior Design Certification from LaSalle, University in Chicago, Illinois. I love that industry but, my main interest was in marketing and managing major shopping centers, so I updated my skills by attending special marketing classes at California Polytechnical Institute in Pomona, California, Michigan State University in Lansing, Michigan and the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Arizona.
Since fashion is an integral part in the marketing of a major shopping center, I studied fashion and fashion presentation extensively with the Riverside fashion doyenne, who herself had studied at the Fashion Institute in New York City. She was the most “fashion savvy lady “ I have ever met and it was a privilege to be associated with her. While studying with her, I was fortunate to co-host a major fashion event with “THE” Mr. Blackwell of Worst and Best Dressed fame. Unlike his reputation, he is a very kind and gentle person and I enjoyed working with him immensely.
I had a fabulous career that when I was growing up I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams. When I think back on it, I am astounded as to how I was led to it one step at a time, never really knowing where I was going until I landed smack dab in the middle of it. What a joy it is for one to be able to earn a living, doing something that he/she absolutely loves. How lucky I was to have been so fortunate.
I could never write a “bio” without paying tribute to my parents, my siblings and my church. What wonderful components they were and are in my life. My parents (the best) were hard working, blue collar people who devoted their lives to their children. It was their goal in life to raise, good, kind, caring, loving, considerate, responsible children and I am proud to say that they were a SUCCESS!!! My two older sisters and two younger brothers have been a blessing to me and I can’t imagine what life would have been like without any of the four of them. I thank God that they belong to me!!!
In my growing up years, I was deeply involved in the Baptist church and spent most of my leisure and social time at the West Side Baptist Church in Enid. I developed Christian friends there with whom I am still close and when I am in Enid, Sunday mornings will find me worshiping in that little church. My Christian faith, which I discovered as an early teenager, is a constant in my life and brings me peace and joy and sustains me on a daily basis.
Leon and I have been retired since 1990. We have traveled extensively and with the world in the shape it’s in, I think we just about have that part of our lives behind us. We have been through most phases that people go through in their lives and I feel I am entering into another one right now…..a phase of contentment. At this point in my life, my desires and needs are simple. The older I get, the less I want. Excess drives me crazy and I refuse to be held hostage to possessions. I like a plain and simple, peace and quiet kind of life. I guess that’s what the senior years are all about, at least they are for me. No, I don’t mean to imply that I am through with life, I am just through with the frivolous, excessive part of it. I have developed a sort of “been there, done that” attitude.
In retirement, I busy myself with a number of activities and interests which include, family, friends, health, exercise, religion, bridge, reading, history, live theatre, music of all types (especially live performances,) the computer, limited travel, and the stock market. (Remember Francis I. DuPont?)
I began this biography, expressing my fear that once we graduated from high school that my friends from school would scatter to the four corners of the world, never to be heard from again. I am happy to say that I could never have been more wrong!!! I have been able to keep up with many of my fellow grads and their spouses through e-mails, telephone calls and face to face visits every once in awhile. Though we have traveled different paths and have had varied experiences in our lives, the common bond of having known each other in our youth and having grown up in Enid, Oklahoma has made us a close group. What a blessing they are to me. They know who they are and I can only say to each and every one of them, “thank you for being a part of my life.”
Leon and I moved from Las Vegas, Nevada to Denton, Texas (outside of Dallas) in 2004 and are still adjusting to our new environment. We have moved twenty times in our married life and enjoy buying a new home and starting over from scratch. I love the interior decorating part of it so that‘s always an incentive for me to relocate. We are both Californians at heart, having lived in that state 23 years of our married life and would prefer living in the Rancho Mirage area of California to anywhere we have lived or visited. So, we have no idea whether we will stay in Texas or move back to California in the future.
Leon and I have been married forty seven years. He has been a good supportive husband and I couldn’t ask for more. I appreciate him very much and can’t imagine life without him. For those of you who know him, I am sure you will agree with me when I say, “he’s one of a kind.”
I wish each of you the best and I look forward to seeing ALL of you, October 4 – 6, 2007, at our BIG 50th in Enid, Oklahoma.