Season 1 of Moments

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Arthur Blank’s 1978 firing led to Home Depot, Falcons re-birth and countless benefits for Atlanta

By Chris Schroder

The story of the phoenix – the mythical bird that rose from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle – is often interwoven with the history of Atlanta. Yet no phoenix-like business story has so benefited our region as that Moment in 1978 when Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus were fired.

“We were running the most successful home improvement company in the country at that time,” Arthur told us while filming our accompanying Moments video. “So when we got fired during what was supposed to be a five-year budget meeting, we were both shocked.”

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Doug Hertz’ Moment was realizing so many nonprofit groups were counting on his idea

By Chris Schroder

Doug Hertz wears a lot of hats these days, but a couple of weeks ago he was worried he wasn’t wearing the right shirt. Not that there’s anything wrong with wearing a Falcons shirt – after all, he’s an owner now.

But on this day, he was supposed to be talking about Camp Twin Lakes, which he founded 20 years ago after he spotted and then solved a common issue among nonprofit groups serving children with various kinds of illnesses. These camps all needed a home – and the ability to provide custom medical services.

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Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff’s Moment was seeing his mom and dad together one last time

By Chris Schroder

Thomas Dimitroff likes to live life in the fast lane. In his free time, you will find the highly successful general manager of the Atlanta Falcons pushing the limits in extreme sports, such as snowboarding, mountain biking, rock climbing or riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Under his management, the Falcons have had four consecutive winning seasons, made three playoff appearances and have reset expectations to be considered as one of the elite teams in the NFL.

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Souper Jenny Levison’s Moment happened as she watched her friend battle energetically to the end

By Chris Schroder

If you can keep up with Jenny Levison this year as she appears on the NBC’s morning Today Show for the sixth time, or as she stirs the pots in the kitchen on Sundays at her second restaurant, Cafe Jonah, named after her son, or as she converts a food truck into a soon-to-be-launched mobile juice business – you would wonder how she does it all. You will also find her signing copies of her second book at the Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market on Saturdays or singing and dancing across Atlanta stages in various theatrical productions – one of which her restaurant staff writes, produces and stars.

“I can thank my friend Andrea. What happened to her really taught me a lesson about living now and not putting off things for the future and doing everything you can in the present,” she told us in our accompanying Moments video interview.

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Brad Cunard’s Moment was first day recovering from the worst thing that can happen to a man

By Chris Schroder

Almost 11 years ago, the worst tragedy anyone can imagine happened to Brad Cunard. In the days and weeks that followed, as word of the accident spread through Atlanta and around the world on CNN, most people responded with the same question: “How does one recover from that?” Happily, we now have an answer.

“My Moment was the day after tragedy struck,” Brad told us in our accompanying video. “I woke up and my whole world was gone. I lost everything. I lost my business, I lost my family and I had to start over. The first thing I could think of to do was to just go out and start walking, trying to get some sort of flow into my brain. I found that it became more of a prayer walk, if you will. And I went from about 230 pounds down to about 175 pounds over a few weeks time. And that was really the beginning of the new me.”

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Rev. Joe Roberts followed in the footsteps of both Martin Luther Kings, except for one 1964 Moment

By Chris Schroder

Rev. Joseph Roberts wasn’t prepared for all the adulation he was receiving as he glided down the aisle of a church in the northern New Jersey city in which he had been named pastor of a small Presbyterian congregation a mere two weeks earlier. It was a stirring and soon-to-be embarrassing Moment for the man who would later follow Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. in the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

In a city of relatively few historically significant buildings, Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church stands as a touchstone to American history: the birthplace of the civil rights movement that changed the course of our region and nation.

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Back from Harvard, amidst detritus of Vietnam, Plemon El-Amin had a spiritual Moment

By Chris Schroder

Imam Plemon El-Amin looks back now over his 33 years as leader of one of the region’s largest mosques, as well as the largest Muslim educational program in Atlanta that he helped establish. The Atlanta native traces his conversion from Christianity to Islam as a Moment after he returned from graduating at Harvard in 1972 and found his community devastated by the drugs and physical scars of the Vietnam War.

Growing up near Spelman and Morehouse colleges in southwest Atlanta, schools his family traditionally attended, Plemon sensed he had a broader view of the world so he applied and was accepted at Harvard, MIT and Princeton. He returned to a city in which “my friends were coming back from Vietnam addicted to heroin, or handicapped or in body bags.”

He owned and operated a paint store, and helped with his family’s construction company, but he grew increasingly troubled at the political unrest engulfing the country. He was a member of Providence Baptist Church, “an intellectual Christian congregation which included members such as Benjamin E. Mays, who was a frequent speaker. But the church didn’t have an answer for what was happening around me.”

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Bob Williams scored his Moment announcing the Hawks-76ers sellout game at age 23

Bob Williams was looking for a job after he graduated from UGA in 1975. The one thing he knew about himself was that he loved sports. So he wandered into the offices of the Atlanta Hawks and offered to work for free.

The NBA team accepted his offer and found a place for the man who is today president of the team and its arena.

The Hawks actually paid Bob $500 a month to go around the state and organize high school match-ups before the NBA players took the basketball court. Making deals with coaches to sell 500 tickets in towns such as Rome and Chatsworth, Bob got to know the players and later announced their games over the PA (public address) system in the Omni, where the Hawks played until 1997 (before Philips Arena replaced it).

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Gary Price’s traumatic Moment changed his role as father and boosted his professional confidence

Gary Price thought things were going well in his 15-year-marriage, so he concentrated on his accelerating management career at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Atlanta. Then, being “a typical male, I outsourced all the stuff at home.” His Moment occurred without warning nine years ago, when “my wife decided to walk out of the house and leave me with raising three kids, ages nine, six and two.”

Gary’s journey as a single father paralleled his rise of becoming managing partner of 1,400-plus employees at PwC’s Greater Atlanta market.

An Ohio native, Gary joined PwC’s assurance division, providing counsel to transportation and manufacturing clients after graduating from Ohio State in 1983. He moved to Atlanta in 1999 to lead the firm’s work on the Delta Air Lines account.

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John Dewberry shared many happy Moments with his dad – and a sad one he kept secret for a while

By Chris Schroder

John Dewberry generated a lifetime of headline-generating sports and business Moments that he was proud to share with his father, but one very personal Moment they shared – undergoing cancer surgery on the exact same day – was one John chose to keep a secret until his dad was in recovery.

“I had not told him about my cancer because I didn’t want him worrying about me,” John told us when we videotaped his Moments video. “I didn’t want him to be expending energy worrying about his son because I knew that was exactly what he would do.”

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Milton Little’s Moment was a girl’s kiss that led to a career with United Way

Milton Little Jr. was working for a nonprofit education and social policy research organization in New York City in 1989, when his outreach to the disadvantaged suddenly got up close and personal.

“I felt I was doing a good job of giving back because of my profession,” he said in our accompanying video. “She decided she was going to crawl in my lap, she put her arms around me and kissed me on my cheek and told me to ‘keep reading.’”

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Hope Arbery’s Moment returned her to a childhood passion and began a home-based business

Hope Arbery was a young successful real estate attorney when she was assigned a case for which law school did not prepare her: how to balance the demands of a growing practice with her developing desire to stay home raising two young boys.

Deliberating the issue while at home on an extended break from the firm, Hope’s Moment occurred when her next door neighbor called.

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Bo Jackson’s Moment was deciding which path to follow after his 16-year-old son died unexpectedly

Bo Jackson was driving urgently down New Providence Road in Alpharetta on the foggy, rainy election night of November 7, 2006, hoping and praying his – and any parent’s – worst nightmare was not about to unfold before his eyes.

Bo’s Moment wasn’t when his son Parker died; it occurred months afterwards. “I was forced with a decision and a choice,” he says in our accompanying Moments video, filmed at Parker’s grave. “How was I gonna react to this tragedy? Was I gonna to let it bury me or was I going to rise above it?”

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Lisa Borders’ Moment helping to integrate Westminster provided life and career lessons

Seventh grade can be an awkward time for any student, but for former Atlanta City Council President and current Grady Foundation President Lisa Borders, helping to integrate an independent private school in Atlanta made it especially challenging.

“What I learned is that I had the capacity not only be at that school, but to excel, and it taught me to deal with adverse circumstances, always,” Lisa said.

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Tom Key’s Moment was choosing between Atlanta and a great job offer in the bright lights of New York

Tom Key has graced Atlanta audiences with many dramatic productions at Theatrical Outfit and the Alliance Theater, but the curtains rose on his own dramatic Moment 26 years ago when he was offered a chance to lead a theater in New York City.

With echoes of nightly off-Broadway standing ovations for his one-man show still ringing in his head, Tom instead chose to nurture his talents in Atlanta – his “home place in the American South.”

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Bob Voyles’ Moment was hearing Atlanta’s traffic would prevent his daughter’s return

Bob Voyles has spent much of his career developing signature buildings that grace Atlanta’s prime intersections and highways, so “it was like a fire bell going off in my head” when his daughter Virginia revealed she wasn’t moving back to her hometown because of Atlanta’s growing congestion.

“This was a huge surprise to me, because I love Atlanta and worked here nearly 40 years and my family is from here and always expected my children to want to embrace the city that I loved,” Bob recalled in our accompanying video.

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Joyce Fownes’ Moment transformed her – just as her design team transforms workspaces

By Chris Schroder

Joyce Fownes has completely transformed the workspace of many of her firm’s clients, proving again and again that interior design can alter how employees interact with each other.

Ironically, she found herself completely transformed one recent Easter morning when she felt spiritual “lightning” travel through her body. She hasn’t been the same since – at home or at work.

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John Pruitt’s first TV Moment went national, sparking award-filled career

As a longtime news anchor on Atlanta’s top-rated television stations, John Pruitt narrated and often embodied the tumultuous events that punctuated our last half-century. On July 4, 1964, John stood next to a colleague at a segregationist rally when four young African-American men wandered in, inciting a melee in the stands. John’s colleague handed him a video camera, quickly showed him how to press the button to record on film and pushed him in the direction of the battle and into his own Moment of journalistic fate.