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To learn more, visit Bose.com. AmericanStories.com And we continue with our American Stories and with a moving story from our own hometown, which is Oxford, Mississippi, about an hour due south of Memphis, Tennessee. On March 4, 2022, Milton James passed away far too young, at the age of 58. Today, two of his colleagues from FNC, Inc., a real estate mortgage and technology leader in the country, a great homegrown company, pay tribute to the man they love. My name is Jeffrey Little, and I met Milton James on January 2, 2007, which was the first day that I started at FNC.
In fact, Milton was the first one to greet me as I came in the door, and he was and will continue to be an influential part of my life. After graduating from Ole Miss, he worked for Georgia Pacific here in Oxford and was involved in an accident where he fell about 80 feet off a ladder and, you know, broke his neck and was paralyzed. And that was a difficult time for him in his personal life. He had two young daughters and was married at the time, and the fallout literally from the fall was ultimately that his marriage didn't last.
And, you know, he was dealt a really difficult hand, and life came at him pretty quick, and he had to figure out if he was going to fold or if he was going to press forward. And I think, you know, Milton was raised in a home where, you know, faith was discussed, but I think as he had his accident and really hit the true world's version of rock bottom, I mean, I think ultimately it was his faith in God that helped him find the strength to get up and keep on going. So Milton decided he wanted to go back to school. He's in a wheelchair now, and he's going to go to Ole Miss and take some MIS classes so he can learn the new technology because technology is what we are in, this emerging world. It's all about technology. And so Milton goes back to get this MIS degree, and it just so happened at the time that he went back to school, four professors at the university had come up with this idea that ultimately became F&C, which is a great Mississippi story.
The company ultimately sold in 2016 for $400 million. But at the time, the professors, in addition to working to build the company, they were, you know, they were still teaching at Ole Miss. And so one of the key founders, whose name is Dennis Tosh, really took interest in Milton because, as Dennis describes it, you know, Dennis is in teaching class, and he's got all kinds of students, and Dennis is pretty no-nonsense. He's pretty short and to the point, but a very, very, very bright guy and a very influential teacher. But as Dennis describes it, Milton kept wheeling around the corner, you know, coming into his classroom with this big, bright smile on his face and was always optimistic, and Dennis was like, what, you know, hey, man, you're different.
What makes you go? And so they came to form a relationship. Milton was able to share his story with Dennis, and Dennis really took Milton under his wing because Milton was so optimistic, you know, despite what others might perceive to be a very difficult situation. He just wasn't going to let that affect him. He's a very strong-willed man.
You know, for me personally, he's the strongest-willed person that I've ever met in my life. The next thing you know, F&C begins to take off and had to hire some people to come in and help the company be successful. And so Gwen Knight, who's here with us today, was one of the first hires.
Dennis Tosh actually identified her and hired her too fresh out of college, and the two of them go back and they hire all their old classmates to come back and be our customer support department. So it's sort of this incestuous kind of really neat thing where you have people that know and love each other that come together to make, you know, some magic in a little company based in North Mississippi. At the same time, people, when they come into their work every morning, you know, everybody has a problem, and I love to quote an old M&M line from back in the early 2000s. It's, if you could walk a mile in my shoes, you would feel crazy too. And, you know, I think that is, it's telling because to each person who has life experience and deals with things that go on around them that are personal to them, life is full of ups and downs. And everybody gets, at some level, gets really wrapped up in their own problems. And, you know, your perception of your own problem can be a mountain or a molehill.
You know, it can really influence the way that you look out into the world and the way that you interact with your peers. Well, it just so happens that Milton, in all of his infinite optimism, was placed at the front desk running his job as a member of our customer support team where he would take phone calls from customers and help them with things. So, for me, as I sort of grew up in this business, I'd come in in the morning and I'd be bent out of shape about some little trivial thing that in my mind had become this mountain. And I would come in and I would see Milton, you know, there in his wheelchair. I came to understand he would get up at four in the morning to have his nurse prepare him and help him get ready to come in just so he could be here, you know, at seven o'clock to start his shift. And as I came to sort of understand his story, you know, I'd come in with whatever little thing was going on with me and I would see him and he would smile and greet me in a way that he knew when something was going on with me. And, you know, hey Jeffrey, come on, come talk to me for a minute, right? And he just wanted to know, he was a great listener, I can see something's going on today, talk to me about that. And so over time it got to be this thing where I became very aware of the silliness of my own problem and as I would come in, it didn't matter what was going on, I knew he was going to be sitting there and I knew he was going to be smiling.
And like I knew I'd better reciprocate the smile because that was the expectation that he was setting without ever having to say a word. And I tell that story, that's my version of it. If you talk to the people in this building, there are 300 something people here, everybody has the same story. My name is Gwendolyn Knight and I met Milton 20 something years ago on the campus of Ole Miss. We were both majoring in MIS so we had some classes together, but I used to see this guy coming through the hallway speeding in his wheelchair.
He always, he was speeding always. And we struck up a conversation one day and I realized then that he was going to be someone special. We shared a bond because of the fraternity that he was a part of which is Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated and the sister sorority to that fraternity is Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated which I am a member. So we bonded over that sister brother organization and that we were both MIS majors struggling to get through all of our classes. We were always, he was always driven from the day I met him. He just inspired me and we just formed a bond from then. Milton and my relationship transcended bloodlines. He was my brother and he inspired everyone around him.
I'm sorry. Today is hard for me because this is the first time that I've been in this building where we worked for 20 years since he passed. And walking in downstairs and not seeing him is one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do.
I've been avoiding it, but today is the first day. And I'm so used to walking in the building, seeing him at the front desk and saying, Good morning, Milton. And he would say, Good morning, Gwen. And the first thing he's going to do is ask me how my family's doing. How's Wayne? We call him, my husband's name is Tommy, but we call him Wayne. How's Wayne? And then my son, Evan. How's Evan? How's my buddy? That was his buddy. You know, he's always going to ask about Evan. He not only knew us, his coworkers, but he knew our families, our spouses, our children, and he asked about them every day by name. I don't think anybody else in this building knew every employee and every employee's family, but Milton did. And that was special. And you're listening to Jeffrey Little and Gwen Knight, both of whom worked along with Milton James at FNC here in Oxford, Mississippi.
And when we come back, more of this remarkable story, this love story here on Our American Story. OK, so you never became a professional soccer star, but you could still show out during the FIFA World Cup 2022 with cool soccer swag from your friends at Frito-Lay. Frito-Lay, the official USA snack of the FIFA World Cup 2022, is giving you the chance to win custom swag and amazing prizes by joining their pass the ball challenge.
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To learn more, visit Bose.com. And we continue with our American stories and with a powerful tribute to the late Milton James, who lived and worked right here in Oxford, Mississippi, where we broadcast. Milton became a quadriplegic from a fall and not only refused to let it destroy his spirit, but he was known as a bright light to all who knew him. When he fell, that they'd given him, they said someone with his type of injury would only live seven years. Milton lived 23 years after his accident, and I think it was pure determination to not, you know, succumb to that prediction on his life. He said, I'm not going to die in seven years.
And he didn't. And he went on, you know, to inspire so many people. And I'm so grateful, so thankful that God placed him in my life.
And so at the end, you know, you think, you tell people you love them, you show them that you love them. And Milton was that person that, you know, he didn't just say, Gwen, I love you. He showed me that I love him. I told Milton, I love you all the time.
And I tried to do everything in my power to make sure that he was loved, not just by me, but by my entire family. And Gwen, I don't want to make you cry anymore, but just want to tell another story about when I heard Milton had been sick. So a little context on Milton. He had many health issues over the years. You know, ultimately, he was in the debate of whether or not to amputate his leg, you know, towards the end of his life. And so, you know, while in severe pain, you know, on days when he was having a tough day, the pain was not something that you would be aware of unless you asked him or you knew. And, you know, Milton was very adamant about not taking prescription medications and things. He was very strong-willed in his mind, and he didn't need things to numb the pain. I think there was some part of Milton that embraced the pain because it made him stronger. And so, ultimately, what sent him to the hospital and what took his life, you know, was an infection in his leg. I mean, the bone was exposed, and nobody necessarily knew that, but he'd be in the office, you know, working. First one here with a big smile on his face while dealing with all this. And, you know, COVID, I think, was very difficult.
Everybody was working from home. You know, Milton really fed off of the energy of his family, you know, and then his work family, his children, and then his work family here at F&C. You know, when COVID came along, it removed everybody from that personal touch or connection, and I think that really started to wear on him a little bit mentally, despite the strong-willed nature that he had. Anyway, when Milton ended up in the hospital, we learned about this. I think Gwen was the first to learn, and what we came to understand is she had been there by his side for a week before I even showed up, and that's, you know, something that I regret. But I'll never forget walking into the hospital room to see him. You know, I had heard he wasn't in good condition, and I walked in to see him, and Gwen and her husband were sitting right by Milton's side.
They had been there. They had been there for no telling how long, and, you know, Gwen was sitting right there with him and holding his hand, you know, just giving him a physical touch that I know that he knew, and I'll tell the story because it's something that I'll never forget. But they had Milton heavily sedated, you know, basically to calm him and make him comfortable, and we started to talk to him because we knew that he could hear us, and, you know, I talked to him, and there was a little bit of movement, you know. We kind of joked he was moving almost a little bit better than he did in his wheelchair because, you know, they had numb some of the pain, and I talked to him, and I looked over at Gwen and her husband, and we said, we know he can hear us, we know he can hear us, and I was in tears, and it was a very emotional time, but I stepped away, and I sat down, and Gwen stood up, and she walked over to his side, and she grabbed him and started to give him words of affirmation and talk to him, and he literally almost stood up in that bed because he knew it was her.
It's just something that I'll never forget. It was the way that he moved and the way that he responded in that state was the power of human relationship. During his final days, you know, talking with his daughters, you know, like Jefferson said, he was highly sedated, so he wasn't really conscious a lot of the time, but that Wednesday before he passed is a day I'll never forget. I was going by at least twice a day visiting him in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evenings if I could. As long as he was breathing, I was going to see him, and on that Wednesday, in my afternoon visit, my husband and I are leaving.
I did what I always did. I walked by, I grabbed his hand, stood by his bed, and I said, Milton, I love you, and I'll be back this afternoon, and he opened his eyes, and it looked like it took every breath in him, and he looked at me, and he said, I love you, too. He hadn't spoken in a week at that point, and he didn't speak another word after that. His daughters tell me that I got the last I love you, and that is special. You know, there are two types of ways that information gets disseminated.
One is through television programming and a talking pundit, and the other is through relationship. Milton demonstrated what grassroots investment of time, energy, emotion into other people. He showed us what, you know, the exponential power, it's literally the ripple effect that you see when you toss a rock into the water. You may not even know how far that it expands, and I think ultimately the opportunity to do this interview was something that we promised Milton we would do, which is we will continue to tell his story, because it needs to be told, and there are countless other stories like it, but they need to be celebrated, because they have impact on people, and when people feel impacted, that impacts community, and that's how it works. And what a beautiful story you just heard, and a special thanks to Jeffrey Little and Gwen Knight for sharing this story, both of whom worked at FNC alongside Milton James, and ultimately became friends and, in the end, loved ones and family. A terrific job on the production, by the way, by Monty Montgomery, and on the editing and the interviewing by Alex Cortez. But what a story we heard from our small town, where Milton James, oh my goodness, people knew him here and loved him, and his attitude, his gratitude, his way of thinking about life after having suffered the way he suffered, and almost lost everything, and as Gwen said, Milton didn't just tell people he loved them, he showed people he loved them, and what a difference that makes. The man was a light in this small town, and the light will never fade.
The story of Milton James, the story that transcends race and class, and every other imaginable thing that divides us, here on Our American Stories. So you never became a soccer star, but you could still show out during the FIFA World Cup 2022 with cool soccer swag from Frito-Lay, the official USA snack of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Look for the Golden World Soccer Ball, then pass the ball to fellow fans for a chance to score custom swag. Scan the QR code on specially marked bags of Leis, Cheetos, or Doritos, or visit FritoLayScore.com to join the Pass the Ball Challenge. No purchase necessary.
Open the legal residence at 50 USDC, 18 plus C rules at FritoLayScore.com. Our 2022 iHeartRadio Jingle Ball, presented by Capital One. Y'all ready to have some fun? Starring Dua Lipa, Lizzo, Charlie Puth, The Backstreet Boys, The Kid LeRoy, AJR, and more. When the world gets in the way of your music, try the new Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, next-gen earbuds uniquely tuned to the shape of your ears. They use exclusive Bose technology that personalizes the audio performance to fit you, delivering the world's best noise cancellation and powerfully immersive sound, so you can hear and feel every detail of the music you love. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, sound shape to you. To learn more, visit Bose.com.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-29 10:38:54 / 2022-11-29 10:47:39 / 9