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Talking with Jack Young

September 25, 2009
By Sue Kennedy, Chronicle columnist

Fayette City is a tiny dot on the map of Pennsylvania. Tucked away in the southwest corner of state, this little coal mining town at its zenith was never more than Pop. 1,000. In the 50s Fayette City, was the stuff of small town movies a kid's dream. "It was like living in Mayberry" said native Jack Young.

Well, if the Fayette City, Pennsylvania was Mayberry then Jack Young was Opie Taylor. Jack was the younger of Lois and Clarence Young's two children. Lois was a school teacher, Clarence an auto mechanic and Bob was five years older than his little brother.

Fayette City was a place in time where a kid could grab his glove, hop on his bike and disappear for a whole Saturday. As long as he was home for dinner, no one ever had to worry. Being from Fayette City meant having it all when you were a kid in the 40s and 50s. It was one great big neighborhood where everyone knew everyone and their children. There was a pool hall and a movie theater and a fire house where there were weekly dances. And then there were families who knew how to mentor and friends who knew how to be in it for life. Jack Young was a lucky boy and he knows it.

Article Photos

Jack & Martha Young

Growing up, Jack's omnipresent smile, delicious sense of humor and talent on the baseball diamond attracted friends and admirers like bees to honey.

From the time he could lift a bat to his shoulder, Jack played on every baseball league available. Life was good. And when Jack got to Charleroi high school it got even better. Playing third and short, he was a real star in high school and garnered some pretty influential fans.

His leadership skills extended from the diamond to the schoolroom and in his senior year he was elected vice president of the class. Always an idea man, Jack suggested the theme "Moonlight Cruise" for the Charleroi senior prom. All high school proms were held in the gym in those days where overnight a prom committee could turn a sweaty mega-box with bleachers into Magic Land. Thinking outside the box, no pun intended, Jack felt the visual magic of the Charleroi senior prom cried out for a sound set. He suggested positioning the band near the door to the hall. The boys would then station themselves in the adjoining bathroom and when the band struck up "Stormy Weather" or "Eb Tide" or "Up a lazy river" (Get the picture?) it was their cue to flush all the toilets. Ah, good times. In case you're wondering, that plan was scrapped. Aside from the fact that all those snappy tuxedos with their powder blue and plaid jackets were rentals, Jack & Co really did want to graduate.

That fall, Mr. Idea Man entered California (Pennsylvania) State Teacher College. There he majored in industrial arts and minored in biology and history. He also played baseball and coached baseball.

Baseball was the undisputed Great American Pastime in the 40s and 50s and Fayette City was united in its devotion to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Beans Chacko was the coach of Charleroi's Junior High football and basketball teams; and he was also a part-time scout for the Pirates.

One Saturday during Jack's first year at California State Beans invited him on a trip to Forbes Field for a "look see" with the Pirates. "Beans picked me up at home and said he had to make another stop in Pittsburgh." The stop was at the home of Pie Traynor. The Hall of Fame third base great got into the car and off they went leaving young Jack in the back seat practically catatonic with awe. "I listened to Beans and Pie Traynor talk about whether or not the rookie third baseman for the Braves would continue to hit so many homeruns. The rookie they were talking about was Eddie Mathews." That rookie also went on to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Pirates were on the road that day leaving the clubhouse open. "I was on cloud nine, going into the clubhouse, getting dressed, seeing all the names on lockers and actually getting out on the infield for batting practice. I will never forget that day." While Pie Traynor was hitting ground balls to Jack, another Hall of Famer, George Sisler watched. Sisler was now supervisor of scouts for the Pirates. That tryout led to an official inquiry from Sisler in September of 1953. Would Jack be interested in going to spring training? That was the official inquiry. Jack wrote back saying he was going to finish college. "I then received a letter from Mr. Sisler telling me to contact the Pirates when I graduated and they'd still be interested."

It was in 1954 at California State that Jack Young met an adorable co-ed by the name of Martha Krindle. Martha, a freshman education major from Green County, was a tiny brunette with a ready smile and sense of humor that was a perfect match for young Mr. Young; and the two were soon a couple. Jack graduated in 1956, decided to forego baseball and teaching biology for the Navy, and headed off to Officers Candidate School in Newport, RI. He and Martha were married on the day after Christmas in 1957. Martha graduated from California in the spring of 1958.

Jack's plan was to do four years in the Navy but, as they say "life happens while you're making other plans," four years turned into a twenty-year career. Jack and Martha traveled around the country and the world with the Navy. In 1960 they were stationed in Hawaii and their daughter Beth was born. (Beth now lives in Seattle with husband, Dan Pickard, and heads up a catering company called "Honey I'm Home.")

In 1962 the Youngs were transferred to Oakland and their son, Richard was born.

(Richard and wife, Kelly live in Shepherdstown with ten year old Mason. Richard is with Lowes in Martinsburg as Head of Receiving.) In 1963, stationed in Norfolk, Jack, Jr. was born. (Jack is a retired air force pilot and now flies for Continental. He and Carol and their eleven year old son, Jack, live in San Antonio.)

In 1964 Jack Sr. earned a Masters Degree in Management from the Navy Post Graduate School in Monterey. "I served on three different ships always in charge of naval aviation support but the job I take the greatest pride in was as the supply officer aboard the aircraft carrier, John F. Kennedy." There Jack was in charge of a couple of hundred men and one of his responsibilities was seeing that the 5,000 troops on board received three square meals a day. (You do the math).

Jack's final assignment was in Washington, DC and when he retired from the Navy in 1980, it was as a Captain. The Youngs had moved to Fairfax when Jack took the assignment in DC and after he left the Military, they stayed in Fairfax. Martha had been teaching all along her final 23 years were in the Manassas City Schools teaching Kindergarten, where she was voted "Teacher of the Year" more than once.

Upon retirement from the Navy, Jack and Martha stayed in Northern Virginia and Jack took a job with California Analysis Center, Inc. (CACI ) a computer/management firm in Arlington, that specialized in technology systems to control military inventory services worldwide. Why the name California? As Jack explained "The company was started in California and the owners didn't want to change the name to Washington because then we'd be known as WACIso they kept California." Jack was hired as a project manager and when he left in 1996 it was as Senior Vice President.

Soon "an ex-Navy friend of mine approached me to join his company." The firm is Ruehlin Associates and the mission is to provide a lifeline through seminars for career military personnel who are leaving the service for the private sector.

If what matters most to Americans today is jobsjobsjobs, Jack Young was a man way ahead of his time. As a career transition consultant at Ruehlin, he travels to bases around the country instructing with his own style of down-home dazzle on how to successfully transition to the private sector. One seminar he remembers vividly was at the Sheraton Hotel in DC for a class of Pentagon personnel back in '01. September 11, '01 to be exact. "The class was interrupted announcing a plane had just gone into the Pentagon. I'm pretty we saved some lives that morning." Jack has been giving one or two seminars a month for the past eleven years and for him, "It's a way of giving back to active duty service personnel and it's personally very satisfying. I think I've been training all my life to do this."

In 1999, the Youngs moved to Shepherdstown. They knew it was what they were seeking when son Richard was at Shepherd. "We wanted a college town. A friendly town. Shepherdstown reminded me of home." They first bought a house behind the Blue Moon. Soon after they moved to a more pastoral scene out in Fern Bank at Cress Creek.

In addition his work today for Ruehlin, Jack still finds time to volunteer on the executive board at Fern Bank, to attend those famous Fern Bank parties and to play pool with his buddies at Bob Bryant's. Jack and Martha have always been a team and when it comes to community it's impossible to separate them. They volunteer at the Visitors Center; as docents for Historic Shepherdstown and at the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church.

They support Friends of Music, the University and love the Wellness Center. More times than not the Youngs' "volunteering" has come in the form of "being there for a friend" when they need a ride to the hospital, or someone to sit by their side and just hold their hand. They're the kind of folks you want as friends and thousands all over the world know that. From the moment they moved to Jefferson County, Jack, and Martha, have been very involved in "First in Your Family." "First" is a non-profit, all-volunteer, award-winning organization dedicated to encouraging and enabling promising Jefferson County students to become the first in their family to graduate from college. It's another way to as Jack says "pay it back."

What's next for the Paterfamilias of the Young family? If you could see Jack and Martha's two grandsons you wouldn't have to ask. Jack and Mason Young might live a thousand miles apart but the boys look almost like twins and get along great. Two tweens with energy to spare and impish good looks, all of which they get from Grandpa. The Young House is full of Mason and Jack and their grandparent's faces light at the mention their boys. Mason comes over to be eleven every week but the visits with Jack are sadly less often. A visit is coming up in October thoughand what a wonderful one it will be. When your life has always been about family, friends and giving backif you're Jack Young, you've earned the ultimate reward. ... What's next? They're going to Disney World!

- Sue Kennedy is a former public relations executive and Emmy Award winning screenplay writer.

 
 

 

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