In December of 1946, at age 21, he was discharged from the Marine Corps and traveled to Stuttgart to visit his brother, Bob, who was a building contractor there.
My mother, Hilton Cox, was born in Stuttgart on April 1, 1927. Mom left school in the eighth grade and worked as a checkout clerk at the "Midget Grocery Store" in town. She was 19 years old when Rusty walked in to buy some cigars.
They both described that moment as "love at first sight" and, after dating for just one month, they were married in the living room of Uncle Bob's house. They remained married for 58 years, until Dad died in 2005 at age 80. Mom died in 2013 at age 86.
There are five children in my family. In 1948, my sister, Sharon, was born. Then, I came along in 1949. Sisters, Glenna and Deanna were born in 1952 and 1953, respectively. Finally, my brother, Bart, was born in 1954.
In his final few months in the Marine Corps, Rusty was trained to repair typewriters, adding machines, calculators and other assorted office machines and he supported our family of seven people in that manner until he retired in the mid-1970s.
My School Years
In my younger years, we moved a number of times between Texas and Arkansas, as Dad searched for work. I attended several elementary schools, but, in the fifth grade, our family settled in Channelview, Texas, a small, working-class community surrounded by oil refineries lining the ship channel, about 15 miles east of Houston.
I was a good student, made friends easily, and played baseball, basketball, football, ran track and was a member of Channelview High School's first golf team. Throughout high school, I studied advanced mathematics, Latin, Spanish, bookkeeping, mechanical drawing, history, civics and other core subjects. During the summer, I worked a number of jobs as a laborer: greens keeper at a golf course; painter's helper at a refinery; truck loader/unloader at a lumber yard; overnight attendant at a Texaco gas station, etc. In May of 1967, I graduated in the top 10% of my class.
In September of 1967, I enrolled in the University of Houston where I intended to major in biophysics, but, my life took an unanticipated turn. Although I was a good high school student, I was not prepared for the unstructured life of a college student. As a result, my grades suffered and I was placed on academic probation. I fared no better the following semester and, in May of 1968, I was suspended from college due to poor grades.
My Service in the U.S. Marine Corps
The Vietnam war was raging in 1968 and all able-bodied young men who were not married, or in college, were subject to being drafted into military service. With my suspension from college came the loss of my student deferment, so, in the summer of 1968, I received a letter from the Selective Service ordering me to report for a physical examination, in preparation for being drafted into the Army for two years.
I passed the physical exam, and, after much soul-searching, at age 19, I made what I refer to as my first "life or death" decision. In September of 1968, I chose to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps for six years and, on January 6, 1969, I boarded an airplane and flew to San Diego, California for boot camp.
From September 1968 until January 1969, I spent my time preparing, physically and mentally, for what was to come. So, while Marine Corps boot camp was the toughest thing I had ever experienced, it wasn't as hard on me as it was for others in my platoon who hadn't prepared.
Upon my arrival in San Diego, I was assigned 1st Battalion, Platoon 1004. Ten weeks later, on March 13, 1969, I graduated from boot camp, having achieved the rank of Private First Class (E2) and, while many members of my platoon were sent to Vietnam, I was not. Instead, I received orders to remain in San Diego for the next eleven months to attend electronics school to become a radio technician in the Marine air wing. During that time, I excelled in those classes and received promotions to Lance Corporal (E3) and Corporal (E4). Upon graduation, I was ordered to report to my first duty station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, on March 21, 1970, but, was only there for three months when I received orders to report to Quantico, Virginia, which was to be my last duty station.
At Quantico, I was assigned to Mobil Air Traffic Control Unit 78 (MATCU-78), which was a small unit with a portable radar unit, an air traffic control pod, and a radio repair pod, all powered by a diesel generator. We were designed to be airlifted to a remote airbase to direct air traffic for fixed wing and rotary aircraft as they took off and landed. My job was to maintain the radios that the air traffic controllers used to communicate with the aircraft. I performed my duties well and was meritoriously promoted to Sergeant (E5) in December of 1971. MATCU-78 was never deployed from Quantico.
My 6-year contract with the Marine Corps was for 3 years of active duty, followed by 3 years in the ready-reserves, subject to recall to active status at any time. My 3-year active duty tour ended on January 5, 1972 and I returned to Houston, Texas to get on with the next phase of my life.
University of Houston - Part 2
On April 17, 1971, I married Sandy Silva, a beautiful young woman of Mexican and Irish heritage, and brought her back with me to Quantico for the remaining eight months of my tour of active duty. So, in January of 1972, we packed the car with all our possessions, and our cat, and drove from Virginia to Houston.
I knew I wanted to go back to college, but, had to wait until September for the fall semester to start. So, I worked a number of menial jobs until then. Sandy obtained a job as a clerk in an office.
We settled into an apartment within commuting distance of her office and the university. The G.I. Bill paid for my tuition and books and with what was left over, and her paycheck, I was able to go to school full time, carrying 18-21 hours of classes each semester. I also took classes during the summer. As a result, I graduated in 3 years, on December 19, 1975, with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting, with a 3.3 grade point average (GPA).
My Career Begins
In my senior year of college, I was recruited by a number of "Big 8" accounting firms and several large companies, but, I chose to go to work for Tenneco Oil Company, in downtown Houston, as an entry level accountant. I was assigned to the International Accounting Department where I was responsible for recording the activities of subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Egypt, Trinidad and elsewhere. It was in this position that I learned to translate foreign currencies to U.S. dollars and vice versa.
After two years in accounting, sitting at the same desk, doing the same thing day after day, I was growing restless. I wanted more. So, I interviewed for a position in the Internal Audit Department and was accepted. This move opened up an exciting opportunity to see all aspects of the company's operations and provided additional opportunities for domestic and international travel.
Always striving to move ahead in my career, two years later I interviewed for the position of Assistant Division Auditor for Tenneco's Mid-Continent Division, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and was accepted. By this time Sandy and I had our first daughter, Kelly, who was 2 years old when we moved from Houston to Oklahoma City. Life in a smaller city, with a slower pace, was good.
It was here that I began to truly apply my knowledge of the details of the oil & gas industry, and learn more: leasing of the land; preparation of the land for drilling; the geology of the earth; identifying oil & gas reservoirs thousands of feet below the surface using the science of geophysics; drilling techniques; types of drill bits; drilling mud; drill pipe; types of casing and tubing; completion techniques; installation of tanks and pipelines for production facilities; measurement of product with meters; delivering product to purchasers; refining oil and processing gas into their derivative components; and, verifying revenues based on volumes and price.
There seemed to be a two-year pattern of change in my career, and this was no different. Two years after I arrived, my boss announced that he was transferring to Houston, leaving open the position of Division Auditor. As in all previous instances, I interviewed for the job with the Division General Manager and was accepted as the new Division Auditor. Now, at age 32, just 6 years after graduating from college, I was responsible for creating and implementing the audit plan for a $100 million division. On top of this, our family grew bigger as our second daughter, Casi, was born.
Divorce and New Lives for All
On the outside, all seemed well, but, within me was a growing unrest with my marriage. It's hard to narrow it down to just one thing. I guess it was a combination of many small things, but, they led to our divorce in the spring of 1983. The hardest thing was telling my daughters, who were ages 6 and 3, that I wasn't going to be living with them anymore. But, I assured them that I loved them and would always be their father. After that came visitation with Dad every other weekend and two weeks in the summer, as my work and travel commitments permitted.
After our divorce was final, Sandy met a man, Bobby, at church and they fell in love. A few months later they were married and remain married today.
As for me, I have never remarried.
Everyone seemed to be adjusting well until 1984, when Sandy announced to me that Bobby's company was transferring him to Dallas, Texas. My daughters would now be 250 miles (4 hours) away from me. As you can imagine, my scheduled visits stretched from every two weeks to every few months. But, in between visits, I always called them to let them know I was thinking of them, looked forward to seeing them soon, and that I loved them.
With the move, Kelly and Casi settled into life in a new neighborhood, in a new church, with new friends, and eventually entered a school system from which they both graduated. As difficult as divorce can be, ours was amicable and I was always welcome in Sandy and Bobby's house.
So, for the next 15 years, I drove the 500 mile round trip to see my girls for birthdays, holidays, dance recitals, school plays, soccer games and Friday night football games to watch Kelly perform on the drill team.
In 1986, there was a downturn in the oil & gas industry and Tenneco laid off a significant number of employees. I even had to let my Assistant Division Auditor go. The division continued its downward spiral, however, and shortly thereafter, I transferred back to the Houston office to become a Staff Auditor in the Internal Audit Department.
In Oklahoma, I had grown accustomed to being my own boss, and, I didn't adjust well to the corporate structure in Houston. So, in 1987, I resigned "to pursue other interests".
My Short Career at Enron
In 1989, I returned to auditing when I was hired by Enron Oil & Gas in Houston, where I traveled all over the United States and parts of Canada to ensure that the company's operations were being properly accounted for. After one year, I transferred to another subsidiary and added natural gas pipeline operations to my knowledge and experience. For the next 3 years, I was consistently assigned high-level audits and performed my duties to the best of my abilities.
Over time, however, and despite my best efforts, I saw little opportunity for advancement. So, in 1993, I resigned from Enron "to pursue other opportunities" once again.
Inventions, Patents and Business Development
I left Enron with stock in my 401K to sell. So, I did, and now had the time and money to pursue my dreams of being an entrepreneur. In prior years, I had spent my free time inventing and receiving a patent for a device to protect automobile doors from being damaged while parked. You know, when someone opens their door into yours and chips the paint. I called them "door dings".
I hired a patent law firm, spent thousands of dollars with them, and finally obtained a patent. I conducted my own market research, sourced the raw materials and manufacturer, and created my own business plan to present to potential investors.
It was during 1994-1996 that I volunteered my time as Treasurer, then President, of the non-profit Houston Inventors Association. I was not successful finding investors and, just when I became disillusioned, I was approached by a man with an idea who needed a business plan.
I reviewed the outline of his plan and liked it enough to sign on as an equity partner. Applying my accounting knowledge, organizational expertise, and my auditing and financial experience, I revised his $30 million plan into a $350 million, vertically integrated, international seafood venture. We spent the next year presenting it to various investors and found one in California who agreed to fund the entire project. Unfortunately, the deal eventually fell through, and, although we continued our search, we were not successful in finding another investor.
Back to Auditing - Under Different Circumstances
One day, in 1995, I was eating lunch at a restaurant in Houston and saw my Tenneco boss from 1977 at the next table. We struck up a conversation and I learned that he had started his own auditing firm a few years prior. I recounted my life and work experience since we had worked together and, at the end of lunch, we scheduled an appointment for me to come to his office for further discussions. The following week, we met, had a long talk, and he invited me to join his firm as a contract audit consultant. And, I agreed.
Thus began the second half of my career as I contracted my services to his firm for the next 20 years. This time, it was different, though. I could pick and choose my assignments and enjoyed my time off between them. Although I worked in an office during the audits, I was just there for a short time, usually one to three weeks, then I moved on to the next assignment. I worked independently, or as a team, with no office politics and no climbing the corporate ladder. As a plus, my earnings as an independent contractor were double those of my last job at Enron.
My experience grew with every new assignment and my world opened up as I traveled from city to city and to several foreign countries. I was hired by some of the world's largest oil & gas companies, CPA firms, law firms, business owners and others to provide expertise in support of lawsuits, arbitration, purchase and sale of properties, mergers and acquisitions, pipeline construction, oil refinery and gas processing plant operations, oil & gas revenues, suppliers, and all other aspects of the industry.
My Retirement From Auditing
I would still be working today, but, in 2014, the price of oil dropped from $100.00 per barrel to $50.00 and his clients cut back on hiring auditors. I was able to sustain myself for the first few months of 2015 by picking up an assignment here and there, but, my successful auditing practice eventually ground to a halt.
Fortunately, I was 66 years old and eligible to begin drawing Social Security benefits from the money that had been confiscated from me since my first job in 1964, at age 15. Of course, my check was 75% less than what I had been making as a consultant, so, I had to drastically cut my living expenses.
In 2016, I moved from Houston to North Texas, and settled in a small community a few miles from Fort Worth. I rented a comfortable, affordable apartment in a quiet neighborhood near my daughters, sons-in-law, and my grandchildren. And, that is where I live today.
The Next Phase of My Life
As a young boy, around age 8, I can remember wondering about my life's purpose. "Why am I here?" was the question I asked myself often. And, the answer I heard in my subconscious mind was always the same...."To leave the world a better place than when you arrived."
I did not come from a religious family, so, I had no concept of God, or that He had a plan for me. And, I most certainly had no idea what those words meant. That understanding, and my deep, personal relationship with God, came decades later.
My 40-year career as an audit consultant taught me to question "what is", to research "what should be", and to develop solutions to complex problems to improve the economic condition of my clients. I used that experience, and those techniques, to narrow down my life's purpose to this:
To do my duty to restore liberty and prosperity to ALL Texans, and ALL Americans, by introducing legislation to repeal the complex, corrupt, and unfair income tax laws, and fund a much smaller, limited Federal government using the original taxing methods written into the Constitution in 1787 by the Founding Fathers. These two methods, indirect and direct taxes, funded the government for the first 125 years of America's existence and remain alive, well and available for our use today.
And, that is the main reason I am the 2018 American Citizen Party candidate for the U.S. Senate from Texas.