YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS: Bill Vespasian
This is one of an occasional series of articles that draws attention to ordinary Cherokee County residents and their extraordinary lives.
Murphy – Bill Vespasian was born in Ohio. His mother’s family is from Murphy, while his dad’s family is from Ohio. He moved here from San Diego and has lived in Murphy for 40 years, after moving more than 40 times in his life.
From the fellowship hall of his church, Vespasian shared about his life experiences. He graduated from Murphy High School, where his favorite teacher was Sheila Snow. He later earned his undergraduate degree at Montreat College, then his master’s degree in business and administration at Western Carolina University.
“Being from a military family, I was lucky enough to live in Hawaii, the Philippines and several different states around the union. Besides Murphy, the best place I’ve ever lived was San Diego (Calif.). We surfed all the time and it was beautiful, I just loved it out there,” Vespasian said.
“I’m the vice president of business and finance, and CFO, at Tri-County Community College. Prior to that, I spent about 18 years in commercial banking.
“Interesting fact about me, I helped write the first little bit of software for online registration for Tri-County. We were doing it manually back in ’79 or ’80. It was fun, and I enjoyed that.
“Another fun fact about myself is that I’ve broken over 16 bones in my body. I’m very accident prone. One time I had broken both my arms and was in a cast up to both my shoulders. I got chicken pox the very next day. I’ve had seven surgeries in my lifetime as well.
“One of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had was when I was 9. I spent 34 days in a military hospital with a shattered knee that got severely infected. I was on a ward of adult men, some who had broken necks and would get their halo screws tightened into their skulls at night. That was pretty scary.
“I love being a part of Alpha Youth Group at First United Methodist Church in town. And I have a great group of friends who I love spending as much time with as I can. I’m married, and have one son and one daughter-in-law.
“I’m still trying to see and trace back if our lineage goes back to Emperor Vespasian, who built the Colosseum. “The most interesting thing I’ve ever done was probably go skydiving. Also, when I was younger and lived in the Philippines I had a little straw basket. Our cat kept pawing at the basket, and I was just about to take the lid off when our cat knocked it over and this deadly poisonous snake was in there. It had gotten in the house because we lived right one the edge of the jungle.
“I also got to be on a game show on the Nashville Network and won three days in a row,” he added.
Vespasian is an avid runner who enjoys swimming and playing guitar. He also used to be big into gymnastics. He wants to be known for being someone who cares about people.
“The older I get, I see how cruel the world is, and you’ve got to care for people. That’s what it’s all about,” Vespasian said. “The Lord has shaped me into who I am today, that’s a no-brainer. My Mom and Dad were tremendous role models for me.”
Vespasian is part of the Hiwassee Valley Pool & Wellness Center Board of Directors, United Way of Cherokee and Clay Counties, First United Methodist Church Foundation, Industrial Opportunities Inc., Murphy Shrine Club and Cherokee Lodge 146.
Vespasian has made his mark on the community by being involved in positive projects. He believes in any community, there’s always a need for people to be active in either a professional or civic capacity.
“I got to be part of a Community Leader’s Work Group a few years ago, and we had to develop our own personal mission statement. Mine didn’t take long to figure out. It goes, ‘God and my family are the two most important things in my life, and to always remember to take one day at a time and be in the moment.’ I’ve got that hanging on my wall in my office, and it’s something I choose to live by,” he said.
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