Wednesday, September 2, 2015

As a child, Willard Crayton, one of the custodial staff, dreamed of being the CEO of his own software company.  He laughed, recalling, "Then I really got to do it [software]."

One of the greatest challenges he ever faced was the IBM Programmers training.  A six-week course that at the halfway mark he was ready to quit.  His instructors and fellow students convinced him to stay and he spent 18 years and 9 months working for IBM.
During the Vietnam era, Willard was drafted following high school graduation from Johnston High School in Austin.  He shipped out to Bad Kreunach, Germany, an experience that he and co-worker Lupe Sepulveda recently discovered that they share.  Willard was spared action in Vietnam but remembers his return to the states being a harrowing experience.
"I caught a plane from Columbia, South Carolina to Houston.  At 29,000 feet it kept jerking.  The pilot warned us about turbulence and a storm up ahead.  He said he was going to fly above the storm and he did.  We leveled off and it was smooth for a moment and then the plane just plummeted.  You've seen those movies where the nose just points down and you hear the falling sound?  That's what was happening.  I've never heard so much Jesus calling and praying in my life.  I remember thinking, well, I'm sitting by the wing so when we crash I'll be the little dot right there.  Maybe they can identify me."
Willard is the proud grandfather of five, who also enjoys shopping.  A couple of years ago he decided to treat his grandkids to a new pair of sneakers for school.  He'd been warned this might be costly but it sounded like fun so off they went.  The sticker shock was astounding and made him question his choice of gifts.  The kids were thrilled with what they got and Willard eventually recovered from spending close to a month's salary on their footwear.
Recently Willard celebrated fifteen years at First Austin.  He came to work here as part of the custodial staff, through the recommendation of Mr. Robert Moore.  After his interview with Ann Butterfield, he remembers her asking him to start work the following Monday.  Willard agreed and went home, only to find the phone ringing, Ann on the other end now asking, "Could you start tomorrow?"  And the rest is history.
Want to be entertained?  Willard has plenty more stories and is always happy to chat.


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