This I Believe

Wilkes, Frank M.


  • Frank Wilkes remembers his mother and the beliefs she imparted to him, such as the dignity of work, the omnipotence of God, and the need to follow God's commandments and leave the consequences to Him.
This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
view transcript only

And now, This I Believe. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Mr. Frank M. Wilkes has spent over forty years in the electric utility industry. He is recognized throughout the industry as one of its most able company executives. He was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was reared and educated in Kentucky. He received his degree in electrical engineering from the University of Kentucky when he was only 18. Here now the beliefs of Frank M. Wilkes.
When I was 1 ½ years old, my father died after a long illness, leaving my mother with two boys, my brother, 3 years of age, and me. Due to the expenses of my father’s illness, my mother, at the time of his death, had less than $500 remaining from their accumulated savings. Somehow with this meager capital and by the grace of God, she raised and educated us and in due time put my brother through West Point and me through the University of Kentucky. Thus she gave each of us the chance of advancement in the world.
Now I’m a father and a grandfather and can realize just how unfortunate it is for a child to miss the blessings of the loving care of both parents during the formative years of his life and character.
Yet in another way, I feel I was exceptionally blessed because my mother undertook to be both father and mother to her two boys. Particularly I believe she did much towards formulating my beliefs and ideals.
Her teachings have stayed with me during the many, many years of my life. I still have in my possession the worn Bible, which she gave me when I entered college in 1904. On the flyleaf of this Bible is a quotation: “Fear God and keep his Commandments.” Under this quotation is written in her handwriting: “and God will take care of the consequences.” I think this quotation is typical of her philosophy of life, which she has basically passed on to me.
While I must confess that I have failed to keep all His Commandments, I have cherished her teachings and philosophy of life, and I have tried to apply them to the best of my ability. Among the many things which I learned from her and from her Bible are the following.
Looking back to my childhood, I do not believe my mother ever gave me any spending money except a dollar on my birthdays and two dollars at each Christmas. All other spending money that I received was either in payment of some task which she assigned to me, or was earned by me from service to others. From this, I learned the dignity of labor, and the fact that one must work honestly if he desires to acquire any property and must give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, whether it be as a hod carrier or as a president of a big industry.
One illustration is typical: We were visiting an aunt in Salt Lake City who was well fixed financially. This aunt wanted to give my brother and me some spending money while we were in the city, but my mother insisted that we earn it by cutting dandelions out of the front yard on the basis of 5 cents per hundred for this service. She then required us to put into each pile not 100, but 105 dandelions by actual count. This lesson has stuck by me in my business dealings ever since. She taught me the dignity of the individual and my individual right to claim the promises of God, especially to claim the God given right of liberty and the right of the pursuit of happiness, as long as I did not interfere with the civil rights of other people.
She taught me the free agency of man. It is up to each person to do the very best he can do with the talents which God has given him without fear or favor from any man.
Above all, she taught me to believe in the omnipotence of God almighty, that He has foreordained everything in this world, from its creation until the end of eternity. And while He has made the plans for our lives on this Earth, He expects us to utilize the talents which He has given us and to fight for that which is right—as He has given us to see the right—and God will take care of the consequences.
Those were the beliefs of Mr. Frank M. Wilkes, the president of the Southwestern Gas and Electric Company in Shreveport, Louisiana.