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Memories of the Silver Fox.

It is an honor in this 50th anniversary issue of the Transportation Journal to share memories of Charles A. Taff, respectfully referred to as the Silver Fox by many who enjoyed professional association with him. Like so many of Charlie's former students, I am indebted to him for setting a career path that has been so very rewarding.

My first encounter with Charlie occurred when I was a naive junior majoring in business at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). We met when I enrolled in his course on motor transportation, and this was followed by a course in traffic management. The textbooks used in both classes were written by Charlie. He was a very knowledgeable, interesting teacher who knew his students and took an interest in them. After these classes, and several others, influenced in part by Charlie, I made the decision to major in transportation. I have never regretted this decision.

Charlie was more than just another teacher; he was a mentor. He encouraged students to join clubs such as Delta Nu Alpha and the Propeller Club. He worked with industry leaders to get them to visit classes and assist students. Pilot Motor Freight offered a scholarship, and I was fortunate to be a recipient. When graduation neared, Charlie helped students get jobs through his contacts in the business world. Firms like ALCOA, Hershey Chocolate, U.S. Steel, and Western Electric Company (WECO) were on his contact list. After several interviews and career discussions with Charlie, I decided to work for WECO in Manhattan.

Western Electric had a tuition refund plan, so after talking with Charlie and others, it made good sense to attend New York University (NYU) and work part time on an MBA. About halfway through the program, WECO transfered me to Oklahoma City, and when I applied for an MBA at the University of Oklahoma (OU), Charlie agreed to be a reference. At both NYU and OU it was nice to hear teachers speak so highly of my mentor. Upon completion of the MBA, I consulted Charlie regarding the crazy idea of seeking a PhD at Michigan State University, and once again there was positive feedback and encouragement.

After I completed class work and exams, I contacted Charlie about teaching at UMCP. His response was positive. An opportunity was presented to return to College Park, and I began a new career as a college professor. The very first class taught, a graduate seminar in physical distribution, was cotaught with Charlie. I have never regretted this career decision. It has been rewarding and enjoyable. This wonderful opportunity to teach has, I hope, helped my students in their careers.

In some ways it may appear that this article is written with the intent of self-praise. Nothing could be further from the truth. This piece could be written by multitudes of Charlie's ex-students. It is hoped that readers will understand that the experiences presented here could be written by so many who were fortunate enough to have shared similar experiences with Taft.

Charles A. Taff was a teacher who wanted nothing but the best education for his students. He was a mentor to so many seeking career guidance. He was a career enhancer who made every effort to assist his alums in their careers. While doing so, he established a reputation as a leader in the field of transportation and logistics. His books were classics that both aided students and provided guidance for those working in the field. The success of the Transportation Journal is due, in part, to him. He was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. It is probably presumptuous on my part to say that the Silver Fox was a true friend. Every time I read the Transportation Journal, I am stirred with pleasant memories of one of its founders.

Peter M. Lynagh, EM, AST&L

Professor of Marketing in the Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore, Baltimore, MD plynagh@ubalt.eclu
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Author:Lynagh, Peter M.
Publication:Transportation Journal
Article Type:Column
Date:Jan 1, 2011
Words:664
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