Ask 65-year-old Billy Foust and he’ll tell you the past year or so has been great for him. He became a great-grandfather. Plus, he was elected president of the PTO.
At a time in life when many folks think about retirement, Foust puts in 12-hour days fixing cars and boat engines at his automotive repair shop. For Foust, a Navy veteran who has taught advanced aviation and aircraft maintenance, fixing things comes naturally. And when he’s not up to his ears in hydraulics and hoses at his garage, he can often be found rolling up his sleeves at his other service job: helping out at Austin Peay Elementary in Covington, Tenn.
A father of four children ages 6 to 44, Foust says his years of service in the Navy caused him to miss out on his oldest sons’ school activities. He says the adoption of Khristina, 8, and Samuel, 6, whom he calls his “second generation,” has afforded him another chance to get involved in his children’s education. So at 65, he spent the past year knee-deep in PTO activities, from spaghetti suppers to spiritwear sales. He’s been as successful at the parent group business as he is at his own repair business; under Foust’s leadership, the PTO has raised more than $50,000.
“It’s been an enjoyable year for me,” he says. “I was like a traffic cop,...directing people here and there.” With a take-charge, let’s-get-it-done attitude, Foust says he’s had great success mustering both “the bold and the meek” troops of his PTO to obtain necessities such as a new playground, a kindergarten phonics course, and Accelerated Reader programs for the newly built elementary school. Foust admits his leadership style falls into the bold category. “Sometimes I stepped on toes,” he says, “but we got everything we wanted to accomplish and more.”
Foust built a trainlike contraption out of barrels for the Fall Fun Fest. He rigged it to his recreational four-wheeler and toted dozens of kids around for hours. In the spring, a 6-year-old boy fell from the slide at the school playground. Foust and his wife, Vickie, accompanied the boy and his mom to the hospital some 25 miles away. The Fousts stayed at the hospital while doctors tended to the boy’s compound fracture.
Although Foust’s term is ending, he’ll still be a fixture for the PTO. And he certainly has no plans to retire from his garage. “I don’t know what I would do,” he says.