Dee McCown - Lessons from my Grandfather W.W. Threeton

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Dee McCown, Director of Global Security & Loss Prevention at a Fortune 500 company with a proven track record of successful management in the private sector, US Army and FBI.  I was interested to learn where he found the inspiration to pursue a career of service, and surprised to learn that Dee’s story really begins over a century ago, in the backwoods of Louisiana.

Tom Brokaw, one of the most successful television news journalists of his era, defines “the greatest generation” as American citizens who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America.  It was the subject of his best-selling book from 1998, The Greatest Generation.  

For Dee McCown, who was raised to honor and cherish family, faith and country, he did not need to read a book to learn about the strength and courage that led a generation of young men and women to rise above financial struggle and the winds of war to lead America to greatness in the second half of the 20th century. 

The story was already close to home.  It was the story of his grandfather.

“I will tell you the story about a man that had a tremendous impact on my life even though I did not understand it until well after he passed. That man was my grandfather, and his name is Weston Threeton.”

“My grandfather was born at the turn of the century in the early 1900s to a large family of German Americans that lived in the back woods of Louisiana. My grandfather’s family migrated to Louisiana from Germany several years before the American Civil War and settled in what is now Hammond, Louisiana.”

“My grandfather’s mother died when he was young, and his father was an alcoholic.  My grandfather and his older siblings raised the rest of their siblings pretty much on their own. My grandfather attended school until about the 5th grade. He left school to work and provide for his siblings.”

“My grandfather learned to hunt, trap and fish at an early age that served him well throughout his life. Life skills that he passed on to me when I was a young child.  He endured the years of the Great Depression and World War Two and in fact met my grandmother at a boarding house where they were both staying during the Depression.  In those days young people would leave their farms to work in the towns and cities and would rent rooms in boarding houses.  My grandfather met my grandmother at a boarding house outside of Houston, Texas and later married her.”

“My grandparents ended up having 4 daughters one of which was my mother, the baby of the four.  My grandfather spent his entire life working manual labor in a variety of jobs to feed his family.  He was a roughneck in the Texas oil fields, a miner in the cooper mines of Arizona, a logger in the swamps of Louisiana, a tank builder in WWII, and a blacksmith in later years for a construction company in Houston.  He was literally the hardest working man I have ever known.”

“I remember him at the age of 70 shoveling dirt in his back yard when it was 95 degrees in work clothes dripping in sweat. To him it was just another day at work. He was a mountain of a man and a physical specimen. My grandfather was a soft-spoken man who loved to listen to music and read his Bible.  He and my grandmother lived in a small trailer with an added-on room in their later years not far from my home.”

“He never bragged about a single thing he did his entire life and never asked the government or others for help.  My grandfather fed his young family with a small garden year around, milk goat and the occasional butchered hog or calf and they never went hungry. He saw to it that each of his daughters graduated high school and made lives for themselves.  He was the spiritual leader of his family.  He was a simple man in many ways and a product of his generation, some of the greatest Americans that have ever lived.”

“I never told my grandfather goodbye. He died while I was away serving in the Army and it took me years to finally grieve his passing.  As I matured in life in later years, I came to understand what a genuine and wonderful man my Grandfather was. I came to appreciate the commitment and dedication he had for his family and his unwavering love for his wife, daughters, grandchildren, and God.  I realized that he, among most of the men in my youth, taught me how to be a man.”

“I hold dear the thought that I will see my grandfather again and rest assured that when I do, I will have so many questions to ask him.  I thank God daily now for my grandfather Weston Threeton and difference he made in my life and the lives of so many others.”