Senior Boiler Inspector, Kentucky
Rodney Handy is the type of guy who likes to help people.
A longtime alto sax player, he volunteers each Sunday to play with his church’s music ensemble. In the summer, he coaches men’s and coed softball teams. If that isn’t enough, Rodney also serves as president of the high school band booster parents association.
Not only helpful, the Kentucky chief boiler inspector is also known as being downright courteo us, if not chivalrous. Heck, in junior high he was the type of person who would save a school bus seat for a young lady.
Growing up in north-central Kentucky will do that to a guy. Just ask Rodney.
Born in Georgetown (located in the northwestern shadow of Lexington), the six-year member of the National Board was the benefactor of a “typical rural town” upbringing that was by Rodney’s recollection, “pretty uneventful.”
If there is one childhood memory that brings a smile to the Kentucky official’s bespectacled face, it is the fondness for music he has enjoyed “for as long as I can remember.” In high school, Rodney held a number of part-time jobs including working on a tobacco farm, waiting tables, and ushering at the renowned Rupp arena. “But a lot of my time was spent hanging out with fellow [high school] band members.”
One of those band members was the girl for whom the school bus seat was reserved. Her name was Allison, and she and Rodney struck up a friendship when the former moved to Georgetown during eighth grade. The friendship evolved into dating during high school. But when graduation presented itself, the two headed different directions.
“Up until that point in my life, I never gave serious consideration to my future,” Rodney explains. “At one time I thought I might want to go to law school, or perhaps attend the police academy.” (Rodney’s older brother was a police officer.) But the Kentucky National Board member had “a feeling” as to what he needed to do after high school.
“My brother and dad had both been in the military,” he reveals. “It was only natural I followed their footsteps.” And so in August of 1979, the Georgetown native entered the Navy.
With Allison headed to the University of Kentucky to pursue a degree in economics, the couple decided if their relationship was meant to be it would withstand the test of time.
As with many new recruits, Rodney tested to determine an avocation. High test scores gave him the option of becoming either an electronics or boiler technician. “At this point in my life, the only boiler I had ever observed was at my high school gymnasium,” he explains. “But I thought working on boilers would give me more hands-on responsibility.”
Eight months of schooling allowed Rodney to begin fleet duty as a 3RD Class Petty Officer. His assignment: the USS King.