Former FedEx pilot James Knight no longer takes to the skies, but still seeks adventure. Only now, his journeys take him to the past — specifically America of the 1860s and 1930s.
As author of two books, Knight, who currently lives in Franklin, Tenn., has explored the lives of the infamous Barrow gang in Bonnie and Clyde: A 21st Century Update (2003) and Civil War cavalryman Burton Warfield in Letters to Anna (2007). While the two topics appear to have little in common, they do have one link to Knight: Alma, Ark., his hometown.
Confederate soldier Warfield is a distant relative. Years after the war, he moved his family west from Tennessee to Alma. His oldest daughter, Mary, then married James A. Farris, Knight's great-great grandfather. Once Knight discovered the family's stack of letters — most from Warfield to his wife, Anna, but a few from her to him, he saw a story that had to be written. Using the correspondence as an outline, he researched battles, visited Union prison camp sites, and interviewed historians and professors to paint a historically accurate yet personally revealing picture of one Southerner's war experience.
However, a new biography on Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow interrupted his family tale. While reading a retelling of the crime spree, Knight stumbled upon an incident that sounded very familiar. The event: the killing of the Alma town marshal by gang members Buck Barrow and W.D. Jones on June 23, 1933. Knight's mother was 9 years old the day it happened and remembers playing in her front yard when Barrow and Jones drove by fleeing the scene. Her and other eyewitness accounts differed from what Knight was reading, so he took it upon himself to get the facts straight.
Today, Knight is content with these two books under his belt. He continues to explore history in his volunteer work with the local Civil War museum and by taking his 1934 Ford to car shows. The car is an exact replica of the last ride Bonnie and Clyde stole, and the one in which they met their untimely demise.
But he hasn't put down the pen for good. After all, he says, "A lot of history isn't correct. You have to seek out the facts, almost like detective work." Not to mention, there's Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Doc Holliday, and a host of other Wild West characters he may one day investigate.
— Jennifer L. Marcussen
Like many artists, Brock Williams struggles with the balance between creative and commercial. As executive producer and owner of Boxcar Films, 90 percent of his business' profits come from corporate work. "I hope to start getting more money coming in from the creative work, while continuing to grow the corporate side of the business," he says.
After graduating with honors with a degree in electronic media, he moved to Columbia, Mo., which has been described recently as "the hotbed of a growing documentary film industry."
Fuad, a short documentary he directed, shot and edited, is one of the projects of which he is most proud. It tells the story of a Kurdish artist living in Italy.
His first job was not quite so glamorous, producing radio and TV news segments for nationally syndicated Homefront Productions. The 90-second stories on home improvement are designed to run in local news programs.
He made the transition to self-employment gradually. "I started freelancing nights and weekends while I worked for Homefront," he explains. "I started Boxcar in May 2005. At the time, it was just a way for me to buy my own camera and edit system and continue freelancing."
Although he did not know with certainty that he was ready, he went for it anyway. "I've always wanted to work for myself, and I figure I could try it now when I'm young without as much risk as trying to do it later in life."
His interest in filmmaking began in childhood. "The best way to learn about filmmaking is to just start making films," he says. "I started when I was like 10 years old, but it's never too late." While at the University, he made two films that were shown on campus: Fishboy and Poor Yorick.
Williams' advice for other budding filmmakers is fairly straightforward: "You just have to work on as many films as possible — usually for free at first — and make as many of your own films as possible. Over time you get better and better and learn more and more. If you can shoot and edit and produce and write and grip, then you can stay pretty busy as a freelancer."
— April M. Fatula
By Kevin H. Redd, alumni association president
In 1 Timothy 4:15, Paul bids Timothy to be diligent in his teaching so that everyone may see his progress. So, too, it is important that we move forward in our daily walk with God as teachers and spiritual leaders in the world.
This also applies to the Alumni Association. I believe that current and future students, faculty, staff, and alumni benefit from such progress. Moving forward with programs and functions will aid all of us spiritually and enhance the University. I am proposing we implement several new programs and increase participation in existing ones. To do so, we need the cooperation and participation of as many alumni as possible. Participation, donations, and any other help we may receive will aid us as we move our Alumni Association and University forward. Take a look and see how you can help us as we grow spiritually and personally.
- Alumni Campaigns (through Campus Ministry) — Enabling alumni to return to countries they visited as students.
- Alumni Each 1 Reach 1 — Each alumnus reaches out to at least one prospective student and steers him or her toward the University. Alumni also reach out to fellow alumni to encourage participation in the Alumni Association, President's Council and other areas of support.
- Alumni Admissions Counselors — Call alumni for prospective students' names just as admissions counselors call on students.
- Alumni Night — A night at the Rhodes where alumni are invited to attend an athletic event.
- ASAP! (Alumni Spiritual Assistance Program) — For those who need help spiritually after they've left campus. The program can utilize the services of Campus Ministry, the College of Bible and Religion, and alumni who are spiritual leaders.
- Alumni Job Search — The University's CareerNet allows alumni to post jobs as well as search resumes to hire University graduates.
- Alumni Association Stickers — For alumni to place on the back windows of their cars. Graduates receive these in their senior packets.
- Regional Alumni Association Delegates — These individuals can help keep alumni active and involved without having to travel to the University. Delegates plan or host meetings in their communities.
These are just a few of the programs that may be beneficial. If you or anyone you know has ideas about how we can move forward as an Alumni Association, or if you would like to become involved, please let us know. We'd love to hear your suggestions. May God bless you all and this great University as we endeavor to do God's will.
Kevin H. Redd ('04) is serving a two-year term as volunteer president of the Alumni Association. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Ted Hackney, director of the Center for Charitable Estate Planning
As we discussed in part 1, you must take the simple steps necessary to revise your estate plan when life circumstances change to avoid accidentally disinheriting a loved one.
Remember, an estate plan includes your will, any trusts you have created, life insurance designations, and beneficiary designations to your IRAs and other retirement accounts — annuities, bank accounts with POD designations, property titles, etc. Here are the top three mistakes to avoid:
- Often an individual signs a will in front of witnesses, as required, but signs on the wrong page. Make sure to sign ALL designated lines and pages.
- Writing "this will is void" in the margin of one page does not necessarily invalidate a will, even if the words overlap language in the will itself. A court may hold that the will is still valid.
- If you ask a relative to destroy a will but he does not, the will is still considered valid at your death if it was properly executed. Courts usually insist that a minimum standard of care be met in the preparation and destruction of wills and trusts to protect the interests of all concerned.
Ademption (property mentioned in a will or trust no longer owned at death)
At age 50 you make a will giving your farm to your two sons upon your death. You leave a small amount of cash in an account that is payable on death to your two nephews. However, at age 70, you sell the farm, and the cash from the sale goes into your bank account. At your death, you no longer own the farm you had willed to your sons. Instead, that money is now in your bank account, which you willed to your nephews. Your sons are left with nothing because your will purports to give them a farm you no longer own. To avoid failure of your will by ademption, make sure you discuss any purchase or sale of property or assets with your lawyer so that proper changes can be made to your will.
Misunderstanding survivorship and title to property
Making your daughter the co-owner of your bank accounts "in case something happens to me" may be very convenient. But, upon your death, all the money in your accounts now belongs to your daughter instead of being split among all your children, EVEN IF your will states that your property is to be divided evenly among them. The accounts in your daughter's name are hers alone, and the court will presume that was your desire. No matter how honorable your daughter may be, she cannot easily divide what she has inherited without creating potentially complex tax issues for herself.
Other assets not controlled by your will or trust at death include life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, 401ks, 403bs, investment accounts that transfer on death (TOD) to another person, bank accounts that are payable on death (POD) to another person, and real estate owned as joint-tenants-with-right-of-survivorship (JTWROS). Differences between probate and survivorship property need to be understood to ensure end-of-life property distributions occur as you intended.
The Harding University Center for Charitable Estate Planning is offering a free DVD titled Avoiding Accidental Disinheritance. For your copy, call Ted Hackney, director of the Center for Charitable Estate Planning, at (501) 279-4861 or e-mail email@example.com. Look for part 2 of this article in the spring edition.