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Opinion Letter from the Editor: 40 Under 40, if ...

Letter from the Editor: 40 Under 40, if …

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Robert Francis, 64

This week, after more than a few unplanned issues – pandemic, business shutdown, etc. – we’re honoring some fine young people who are making Fort Worth a better place now and in the future. You’ll see their profiles in this issue. They are a fun and informative read.

We ask each of our honorees a few standard questions, so I thought I would ask them of myself. Let’s see what kind of Forty Under Forty I would be if I were a few years’ younger.

Where did your first paycheck come from?

I’m sure I got paid by my grandparents for answering the phone and doing odd jobs about their business, Lowe’s Trailers and Wrecking Yard, but my first paycheck was from when I was in the eighth grade. A friend of mine, Jerry, worked with his mother at a lunchroom-type place on Gambrell Street across from the Gambrell Street Baptist Church. They went on vacation, so he asked me to work for him. I did stuff like clean tables, wipe down trays, etc. I got a free meal out of it. Smothered Steak was a specialty. This was a real blue collar-type lunch counter place. They had great pies. And one of the cooks there made a hell of a hamburger, though she hated to make it because she thought she was better than that – and she was. But for the life of me, I can’t remember the name of the place, though I can still remember the great hamburger and pie offerings. Surely someone out there knows the name of the place or who owned it and/or made those pies? Better yet, anyone have a pie recipe from the place?

What movie, TV series, play or video game influenced you growing up?

The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a 60s spy series that fired my adolescent imagination and inspired me the most, at least in terms of my current career. I began writing scripts and stories based on the series in the days before “fan fiction” was an actual concept. But seeing The Miracle Worker and To Kill a Mockingbird on TV as a kid did me in emotionally.

What other profession would you like to try?

Director/choreographer. Whenever I’ve had the chance to do it, I’ve enjoyed it. I’m just a hardworking amateur, but it would be fun to be more professional.

Tell us about an influential person in your life, how they influenced you and why he or she was important.

I’m a lucky guy in terms of mentors and important people in my life. My current thoughts have focused on my Aunt Lou Ann, who I lived with a few summers in Virginia and Washington, D.C. She helped me learn a lot about life and we would travel though that area of the country learning about U.S. history and I learned a lot about life as well.

When did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? 

I knew when I was a kid I wanted to be a writer. I had absolutely no idea what that meant at the time and not sure I do now.

What is your favorite song?

Dream On by Aerosmith. Click here to see a local version on YouTube.

Tell us about your prop:

I took this photo sitting at a great grand piano at Arts Fifth Ave. A good piano is like a good friend. You can have a long, in-depth conversation.

There.

Hope you learned something about me. I did.

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