Editor’s Note: The following tribute is from the mother of Carl (Buddy) Lockhart, Betty Ann Lockhart. Her son was killed Oct. 8 in a car accident on Highway 6 in Oxford that shocked his friends, family and the entire Oxford community. Lockhart and his family had been profiled previously on HottyToddy.com. In the story Lockhart came across as a loving father, husband and proud member of this community. Too often with tragic accidental deaths like his, the public fixates on the last mention of the deceased in the news, which is almost always sensational and disturbing. HottyToddy.com is glad to share this more complete mother’s view of a man she knew better than anyone.
Few times in our lives are we privileged to know someone who had the opportunity to affect so many people. Carl (we call him Buddy) was one of those people.
From an early age, he had to struggle to get through school because of learning disabilities that were enormous. Dyslexia, mirrored vision, Attention Deficit Disorder and speech problems were among those challenges. I would like to tell you that Buddy’s 3rd-grade year was a key turning point for my son. He was given A grades, but could not distinguish simple words like “is” or “it.” Any simple words were lost to him.
When I confronted his teacher, I was told he was in need of discipline. Needless to say, his teacher didn’t end up as a good friend of mine. I took Buddy him down the hall and out of the building because I knew what he was capable of.
There are people placed in our lives for unknown reasons and this was one of them. He was my brothers’ high school football coach who happened to be the superintendent of education for Mississippi. One call to this family friend helped put us in touch with a school that was for children with learning disabilities — not a place to get out of school early. There were four, yes only 4 kids, in Buddy’s class.
He struggled to learn. But somewhere along the way, Buddy set his sights on the future and worked away. A report card with a D was as wonderful as an A because he worked for it.
He went back to public school and still struggled. I read more books and worked with him on math more than I ever did myself while in school.
Senior year in high school was traumatic. When Buddy took the Air Force achievement test his principal called him to the office and told him he was only capable of working in a plant or pumping gas. My son’s heart was shattered. I was in the kitchen when he came in with tears rolling down his cheeks. I was just outraged that a teacher of any type would tell a child this. I told Buddy (Carl), “You can be anything you want to be. What do you want to do with your life?” His reply almost took my breath away. “I want to be an engineer,” Buddy said. The thought of moving myself to be close to Mississippi State popped into my head. Wow!!
I could just see all the engineering books to be read. After a deep breath, I told Buddy to get in his truck and go to the Engineering School and talk to the dean. That great guy told him to go to our local junior college and take math from a professor there. Then come to him and get in the school on probation.
Buddy achieved a 4.0-point average at ECJC and headed to Mississippi State. My child with all his learning problems was determined to succeed at his career and left State with a 3.4 average. After graduating, he trained with Dow Chemical and Houston Power and Light. His future was on its way.
Buddy met my wonderful daughter-in-law (Isabel) and then he found the most wonderful reason for living. They had two terrific sons, Jake and Will. Buddy’s dreams were fulfilled.
He traveled all around the world and grew in knowledge. He strived for success, but never forgot his family’s importance in his life. He often spoke of his faith, but always said Isabel was even stronger in hers.
About ten years ago, I saw his high school principal and he asked about Carl. What a joy to tell him that Carl never worked in a plant, but he managed them all over the world. This “educator” was totally shocked.
The point of this story is to tell all people — teachers, friends, and especially parents — never give up on your child even if they try every nerve in your body. Never throw up your hands and run. Hold on, lift them up and keep encouraging that child. Their dreams can come true, just like my son Buddy’s did.
Betty Lockhart is the mother of Carl (Buddy) Lockhart.