Who is your mentor?

By David Bailey, General Manager

August 2020

How do we know to do the right thing? Some people think everyone has that knowledge deep down inside and we simply choose whether or not to act on it. Personally, I don’t think doing the right thing comes naturally without the power of faith and family — and the mentors we meet throughout our lives.

Those mentors can help us to better understand how to do the right thing professionally, financially and even within our own home. I know I have been blessed with several mentors throughout who have taught me the importance of integrity and character in all things. One of them was Bill Hixon, a member of the board of trustees right here at South Alabama Electric Cooperative.

I was deeply saddened when I heard the news that we had lost Mr. Hixon on May 28, 2020. He was a loyal servant to the members of District 1 and faithful in his duties as a trustee right to the very end. As recently as May 20, he showed up to attend the regularly scheduled meeting of the board of trustees. He believed it was his responsibility to serve the people he represented for as long as he was on the board.

Even so, it was clear Mr. Hixon was not feeling his best that day. Some people might call him stubborn and say he should have stayed home. But to me, it was the perfect example of his dedication to serving the members who elected him time and again. Nothing was going to stop him from finishing what he started.

The last time I saw Mr. Hixon was after that meeting as he sat in his car watching the construction on the new building site. He was there for more than 10 minutes. In my mind, he was evaluating the work, although I’m sure he also enjoyed watching a good bulldozer operator.

Mr. Hixon didn’t take the construction of SAEC’s new building lightly. I can still hear him asking, “Now Dave, how much is this new building going to cost?” When I told him, he would let out a long breath and say, “Let’s talk about this some more.” Mr. Hixon always needed to be convinced of the wisdom of those big decisions. Eventually, he was completely behind the project because of the improvements it would provide for our members. In the end, he only ever wanted what was best for them.

It was no surprise, then, to hear so many people speak of Mr. Hixon’s hard-working attitude and humility at his funeral. What did come as a surprise to many SAEC employees was that he also had an impressive athletic career in his day. Mr. Hixon was a gifted base-ball and football player in his time, but he was too humble to live out those glory days by telling everyone about his achievements.

After the passing of his wife, Betty, in 2017, Mr. Hixon threw himself into supporting his grandson Rush’s baseball career at Troy University. Rush became the team’s relief pitcher, and I believe God used this to help Mr. Hixon through a hard time in his life. He was able to fill the void of losing his wife by showing up with friends and family at almost every home game, waiting for the chance to see his grand-son play.

I can honestly say that I loved Bill Hixon. I loved discussing the cooperative, baseball and cattle with him. But what I will miss most is the fun we had talking about football. Every-one in the Hixon family is a die-hard Auburn fan, even marrying other Auburn fans. With Alabama’s success in recent years, some of us on the board enjoyed watching the Crimson Tide riding high.

But Mr. Hixon had the last laugh. When Auburn defeated Alabama in the 2019 Iron Bowl, he let us have it.

I’m going to miss those times and the mentorship he shared with me in the years that I was blessed to know him. I pray that all of our members have mentors like him in their lives and that they inspire them to be mentors in the lives of others.

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