AC Wesson leader after retiring
By Bob Arnold
It hardly seems possible, but Aubrey Cary Currie, Jr (known as “AC” to his many friends around and about Wesson) didn’t come to town until 1998 after his retirement after a long career with Entergy at Mississippi Power & Light (MPL).
AC, who just celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday, came with his wife Janet, bringing her back to where she grew up, and her aging mother.
While Janet continued a career as a gifts shop proprietor, AC involved himself in the community through Wesson Baptist Church, Wesson Chamber of Commerce and Keep Copiah County Beautiful, and, in the process, became known as a “go-to guy” who has been a source of Christian wisdom for young men and peers alike and can fix mechanical things when they break down.
Folk say it seems like he has been around forever. But there were many stops along the way.
Born in Sanitorium, Mississippi, so called because of the tuberculosis institution there, he spent his early life in Simpson County in the Mendenhall-Magee area before moving with his family to the Jackson area, where he attended school, graduating from St. Joseph High School in 1957 following Barr Elementary, Liberty Grove Elementary and Baily Junior High School.
Back in the World War II years, Jackson was a pleasant place, where you could walk to a school bus and bike around town safely, Currie recalls. Living just outside the city, he also had a taste of country and grew up on a tractor, helping to tend to the needs of the property, while leading a liberated life as a latch key kid with working parents who didn’t have to worry about him in those days. In high school, he played football and competed in track. He drove a school bus to make money, and started developing an interest in mechanics with a motor scooter, 1929 Model A Ford and 1936 Plymouth.
Sometimes he resorted to unconventional fix-its to keep his vehicles running – like pouring oatmeal into a car radiator to gum up its leaks. But two years on active duty in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Robert H McCard as a Boiler Tender 3rd Class Petty Officer after joining the Naval Reserve and going to boot camp when he was 17 years old before his high school graduation sharpened his technical skills for a 35-year career “making electricity.”
In 1960 after trying to study with students much younger than he at Hinds Community College, Currie applied for work on MPL line crews, inspired by one of them he saw on the job. For three and a half years, he worked with a line crew in Jackson, and then another year with an underground crew that serviced transformers and pumps. After one year as a meter reader in Jackson, he became an apprentice instrument mechanic at the Rex Brown Steam Electric Station (SES) in the city, transferring to a similar job at the Vicksburg Baxter Wilson SES where he stayed 33 years until his retirement in 1995, and also worked as an instrument mechanic, instrument and control technician, instrument and control supervisor and electrical maintenance supervisor for instrument controls.
Throughout his career, Currie added to his skills set in varied self-study courses: communication engineering (Cooks School of Electronics), electronic technology (Cleveland Institute of Electronics), electronic analog control (Bailey Meter Company), system maintenance (Harris), steam turbine generators (Westinghouse), system engineering (C.E. Taylor Controls), hardware system maintenance (C.E. Taylor Controls), boiler performance analysis (Babcock & Wilcox), electrical system maintenance and testing (South West Engineering), DC, AC, digital and electronic circuitry and semi-conductor devices (Electec, Inc. and AP&L competency-based training at Hinds Community College) and auto computer assisted design (Co-Lin).
As important as education and career advancement were to Currie in his work at MPL, he also credits a supervisor there for helping him hone his spiritual life. “I don’t remember his name now,” says Currie. “We called him Deacon. He brought me to Jesus through teaching and the example he set loving his neighbors and not judging others. I still try to follow his example.”
Since retiring, Entergy and other organizations have called on Currie for his expertise in control technology at power plants. Following Hurricane Katrina, he worked nine months for Entergy to solve critical problems at its Sterlington SES at Perryville, Mississippi. He has also assisted in upgrading control technologies at Electro-Mech’s Navajo Generating Station Scrubber Project and Quality Technical Services at the Geral Andrus and Attala SESs.
Currie lives with his wife in the Wesson home in which she grew up, which together they refinish, fix and remodel as an ongoing project. In 2002, the Wesson Chamber of Commerce presented its Leadership Award to Currie in recognition of his contributions to the community, including service as Deacon at Wesson Baptist Church, board member of Wesson Chamber of Commerce, board member of Copiah County Beautiful and chairman of its litter committee. Currie is the father of two grown sons from an earlier marriage – Andrew in Boulder, CO, retired from an internet company, and Bruce, a Brookhaven physical therapist married to Representative Beckie Currie, a member of the Mississippi legislature.
What are your hobbies?
Fixing and remodeling our homes have been a major part of the life Janet and I lived in Vicksburg and Wesson over the years. I’ve also tried watchmaking and tree farming. I am active in church. Since 1974 when a huge round, flat Unidentified Flying Object touched down at Bovina, Mississippi, and terrified me and my dog, UFOs have been a major interest of mine. Neighbors had strange stories about being captured and taken aboard a ship. I think there’s something to the stories, and visitations of extraterrestrials
Are you a reader?
I have read a lot of technical books. Getting organized is something I want to do well, and I have purchased a lot of books on the subject that remain unread.
Do you follow movies or theater?
I watch a lot of political stuff on the news television channels, but am not into much else.
What would you do with the winnings if you won the lottery?
I can’t complain about personal needs. I’d give away money to churches and charities.
How would you change the world?
We live in a world with a lot of lost souls, who need the salvation of our Heavenly Father, to love and not judge their neighbors.