by Charlie Bowles
I was born a Texan not long after WWII ended. Dallas has always been home, though I’ve lived around the US and other Texas cities for short stays. I’ve been in Irving for 40 years. My life for the last 25 years has been focused on family, three daughters from 21 – 48 years, four grandkids over 21, and three great-grandkids under 8. My wife, Nikki, has been an RN for over 35 years and my mainstay and rock for 27 of those.
I began my Bachelor’s degree in 1966 in Abilene and finished in 1994, and then added an MBA in Technology Management in 1999. Most of my 45-year career was with GTE/Verizon where I retired in 2004. I took on non-profit management and currently run an international actor training organization. I’m a lifelong learner and I studied acting and theater production, did local acting, and now I’m a reviewer of DFW theaters. In 2013 I added Mediation and Arbitration to my workload. Somewhere along the way, I found time to be a commercially-rated pilot, a scuba diver, skydiver, and studio sound recording engineer.
Like everything else in life, I’ve had a long Toastmasters career. I began in Lewisville in 1980. I still have my original, written-out Ice Breaker speech, and all those written-out CTM speeches. Doing speeches was not scary, though I was nervous throughout my Competent Toastmaster manual. But I saw Toastmasters as a way to conquer a major fear – impromptu speaking! My first attempt was 2 minutes of total silence. Patient crowd! But I conquered that fear. After 10 years and some Advanced Manuals, including a role as Hotline Editor under Pauline Shirley, life events intervened and my TM career took a detour. But I rejoined in 2013 and finally, over 35 years later, I reached the end of that initial journey, DTM. I’m a member of the Fort Worth Project Management and Coppell Toastmasters clubs. I’m completing my last CC and CL manuals and working on 2 paths. There’s much more to learn and many more journeys I can take.
I just completed a year as Division Director and one as Area Director and now I serve District 25 as Logistics Manager or the district Sargent-at-Arms. I love being involved with D25 leadership. I love creating quality experiences for members of D25, whether in DEC leadership meetings or Spring Conferences. My goal is to make the background production work of those events disappear so the members and guests can experience the power of Toastmasters in its purest form. I find success in those events of no one knows I’m there.
Toastmasters is the preeminent life-long learner organization in the world! We join because we see a short path to reach a specific goal, but along the way, as we reach those goals and more beyond them, we discover there’s a lifetime of possibilities. And we discover there’s a real joy to serving others. It’s called servant leadership. I think everyone who is still involved after a few years is doing it because of that joy of giving back. I live by the quote, “If you get out of Toastmasters what you can get out of Toastmasters, you’ll never get out of Toastmasters.”