||In any conversation with Luther Wilson the “can do, never be defeated” attitude of someone who has jumped out of airplanes and worn the green beret of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces is readily apparent. Wilson is a person who can overcome obstacles and get things done. He has had many opportunities to do so.
When Wilson was in seventh grade and two weeks shy of his 13th birthday, his mother died. He ran away from home and for the next four years, he lived in basements, garages and homes of friends. Although Wilson was a decent student, the struggle to survive took time away from his studies. During his junior year at John Adams High School on Cleveland’s East Side, Wilson dropped out and joined the Army.
| This was not the end of school, however. Wilson earned his GED while training at Fort Bliss, Texas. After training, Wilson joined the Special Forces and served his country as a Green Beret. In 1984, Wilson left the Army and returned to Cleveland looking for a good job.
That search proved to be elusive and Wilson ended up washing dishes at Nighttown, the jazz club and restaurant in Cleveland Heights. After eight months, Wilson moved on to a warehouse job with Arrow International. Five years later, he realized he needed a change.
Wilson eventually landed a position with Tremco Inc. He started out conducting inventory and progressed through purchasing to production planning then scheduling over the course of seven years. However, his once-secure position vanished in the recession. Wilson lost his job along with his house and car. However, he did not lose his determination.
Wilson moved into an apartment and lived on his savings. Equipped with a great deal of work experience in supply and distribution, he kept up with industry changes by attending seminars and training sessions. Still, he lacked something important that employers wanted – a degree.
His daughter, a student at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®), said to him, “Dad, why don’t you go back to school?”
Initially, Wilson was reluctant, thinking that at age 50 it was a bit late for him. But he enrolled at Tri-C and soon got into the rhythm of college life. Wilson became a student ambassador and then a student advocate, helping other students by removing obstacles to graduation.
The Co-op program brought Wilson to his present position with Steel Pro, where he works at the GM plant in Parma ordering and monitoring the inventory of steel coils used to make cars.
In May, Wilson will graduate with an associate degree in business management with a concentration in industrial distribution. “I am an ambassador for education and for life,” said Wilson. “Tri-C brought me to this special place and made all the difference in my life.”