It’s late …..and I’ve had too much to think – 8/22/06

EyeWhen I look at the cast of characters involved in the Community Maritime Park debate – Quint Studer, Mort O’Sullivan, John Cavanaugh, Charlie Fairchild, Marty Donovan, C.C. Elebash, Blair Stevenson, Sam Hall – I’m forced to think who can I believe? Who is worthy of my trust?

It’s Quint Studer.

I’ve gotten to know Quint over the past year. I’m proud to consider him a friend – before you go thinking that friendship clouds my journalistic integrity, ask my wife, my daughters, my friends and my staff about how much harder I am on my friends than on those I don’t know.

Quint Studer has been tested by fire… a fire that would have destroyed weaker individuals. He was born small, partially deaf and with a speech impediment. He didn’t learn to read until the third grade. He was made to believe he was a failure most of his childhood. He was the victim of bullies. Few things ever went his way.

He tried to enlist in the military during the height of the Vietnam War when nearly everyone was accepted….everyone except him. By pure luck, he took a college entrance exam with his cousin and scored well enough to be accepted to a college.

In college he nearly blew it – drank heavily, got a girl pregnant and was married before his sophomore year.

He did graduate and become a special education teacher. He was successful helping the mentally challenged learn tasks to help them cope in this world. But his drinking got the best of him. It cost him two marriages until he got help.

Quint doesn’t hide this. He admits his mistakes and he has stayed sober for over 20 years. He freely talks about his recovery, how he met his wife Rishy and how he turned his life around.

From education he went into marketing for a drug and alcohol rehab center to head of development for highly profitable hospital to vp of an inner city hospital to president of Baptist Hospital in Pensacola to founding his own consulting business, The Studer Group.

At any point, Quint could have quit. The obstacles were huge. There is no way he should have succeeded, but he did.

Quint will say a lot of his success is due to his fear of failure, but I think it’s because he finally connected with that part of his soul that was driving him to help others…to help others who also might have challenges. I have might few people who are as driven as Quint to help people and make a difference.

Having lived in the Pensacola area for nearly 25 years, I’ve seen many good people fold under less pressure than has been afflicted on Quint. We eat our young in this town and revel in others’ failures. Many would have walked away from the pressure that Save Our City has heaped on Quint.

But Quint won’t back down. He will take the hits because he truly believes the Community Maritime Park will turn this community around.

I do, too.

And I believe in Quint Studer.