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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Daddy's Music

I look at you, Daddy, and remember you as you once were. You had such a brilliant mind, and such a committed heart. I still see the man in this article that was published in the fall of 1999, when the computer world was concerned that computers would crash at midnight on December 31st.  I still see your dedication and your loving commitment—perhaps not the same way as seen in this article, but I catch glimpses of Bud Hampton that remind me that all is not lost.

Bud Hampton leans back in his office chair, arms crossed, staring at the computer monitor, nodding as each highlighted note advances across the screen, carefully listening for any mistakes in the bass section of  “Walk Along Beside Me, O My Lord.” His mouse suddenly clicks, adding the tenor to hear the effect. Satisfied, he introduces both the alto and soprano. The blend is more than harmony. It is perfect.

He brings a strong desire for excellence to this computer project.  It is the same desire he has exhibited his whole life—first as a farmer, later as a computer systems analyst.  The end result has always been something carefully completed. It is no different now that he is retired, and he has no way of knowing I find his dedication inspirational.  I’m allowed. He’s my father.

Thirty years ago, Daddy gave up farming to pursue computer programming.  Before Apple had ever stirred a Windows dream in Bill Gate’s mind, Daddy constructed a DOS BASIC program to help him learn his part for his church choir music.  One note at a time for his then tenor voice, the part played faintly through the small internal speaker of his IBM 286.  Vacation in Georgia always included his latest anthem entry. Throughout a technology-driven Microsoft revolution, he pursued his DOS BASIC entries.

Several years ago, my parents moved to Alabama to live near me. They joined St. Mark United Methodist Church in Anniston, and Daddy dutifully entered his singing part in his old computer. When I acquired a new Pentium in 1996, I offered my old Gateway 486 to my parents. With it came a Midisoft program, I’d never used. Daddy loved it. As new music was introduced to the choir, he entered it into the program. Hours every day were devoted to developing the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass parts for the church’s choir music.

Desiring Windows 98, he purchased a new Gateway system. Suffice it to say that it was loaded and ready to spring into action. The old Midisoft program had to be upgraded for the new operating system. Daddy donated his old 486 to the church—and continued to put each choir selection into the computer with instructions on how to use the system. Now any choir member could learn his or her part, add another part to try out that combination, or listen to himself or herself singing with accompaniment.

Even if Bud Hampton wasn’t my father, I’d find this daily contribution to a church choir encouraging. He is one of the sought-after COBOL programmers. He could have given his choir music up to debug legacy programs to make them Y2K compliant—and to make lots of money for himself—but that would have taken away from his project.

Here’s something to think about. Maybe you’re retired with time on your hands. Maybe you’re an at-home computer whiz and member of a church choir. Consider what a computer and a few hours a day in ministry might do. Bud Hampton finds it is just right.

© 2017 Lynn Lacher                        October/November 1999  Scroll Magazine

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