Back to Work
Versatility is a life preserver through changing times, and these are changing times.
For Labor Day’s Back to Work feature this year, we wanted to explore how citizens of Chesapeake Country were riding the waves.
So we set out in search of career changers.
That choice meant we’d be talking to people who’d been in the water for a while; thus people of a certain age. Our sample brought us ages from 42, Jared Littmann, to 75, Jim Lyles.
Beyond that, my writers and I chose public citizens: people you might meet at the gym, marina, hardware store, at a concert or art gallery, in school or in city hall, out to dinner or waiting for Bay Weekly’s delivery. Indeed, that’s where we — writers Dennis Doyle, Marilyn Recknor, Elisavietta Ritchie, summer assistant Maggie Stamets, Michelle Steel and I — met them.
A few of the 10 to whom we listened have led charmed lives, rising with waves of good fortune. More have ridden the waves down as well as up, known the troughs as well as the crests.
Through lows and highs, versatility has kept everyone afloat, head up, feet down and glad to still be taking the ride.
We’re in good Labor Day company in Chesapeake Country.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin, Bay Weekly editor and publisher
Pete Chambliss, Crownsville
Maryland Tourism Representative ﬂ Appraiser ﬂ Water Taxi Driver
I’ve always been a boat lover and wanted to work, live and have a boat in Annapolis. At the first U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, I bought a Morgan 34. I lived on Dreamchaser for five years until 1976 when I married Janie Campbell-Chambliss and we moved to a house in Crownsville, where we’ve lived happily ever after.
For the Maryland Office of Tourism, I traveled to England, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, Japan and China, promoting our state in the international market. Dreamchaser became a promotional tool, appearing in calendars and magazines, decorated for the annual holiday Eastport Lights Parade. The boat was in the parade for 22 years, and our angel became a holiday icon. Annapolis was a prime destination to bring tour operators and guides, and we would take them on a tour boat.
I had been with the Office of Tourism for 37 years when budget cuts came down and my position was eliminated.
I didn’t take long to get over losing my job because I helped take Janie’s dad (auctioneer and appraiser Robert H. Campbell) to doctors’ appointments. Then Janie, an appraiser of personal property and real estate for 25 years, had a call to appraise a boat. She asked me to do that, and now I work for her doing simple appraisals while she looks at the fine furniture and silverware.
About 10 years prior to leaving my job, the president of Watermark, Debbie Gosselin, said, “Someday you’re going to work for me.” After I was let go, she called and said, “Remember what I told you.” So I went to work driving the water taxi and did customer/hospitality training for our captains and crew.
The fleet includes The Harbor Queen, Catherine Marie, Lady Sarah, and Cabaret II. I’ve crewed on all these boats.
I like the interaction with people, doing what I’ve done for 30-plus years — telling people where to go and what to do. It’s a fun part-time job.
Jared Littmann, Annapolis
Lawyer ﬂ K&B True Value Hardware store owner ﬂ Annapolis alderman, Ward 5
There’s more. I first got a degree in engineering. Then I went right to law school at the University of Maryland Baltimore. I practiced for seven years, the last four at the Montgomery County Attorney’s office.
While I was contemplating whether to stay in government, my in-laws, owners of K&B True Value Hardware, were thinking out loud about retiring. The year I took off law to step in has turned into 10 and ownership.
Environmentalism was my big interest in both engineering and law, and a lot of the changes I’ve made are environmental, from recycling our waste to retrofitting our lighting to putting 72 solar panels on our roof to offering customers more environmental alternatives in products. I’m a businessman, and all those steps make economic sense, too.
My careers trigger different sides of my brain. Engineers are trained to be problem-solvers, and in the store I’m solving problems all day long. I like gadgets, and I have a pretty good visual sense of how things fit together. I’ve used that in both careers.
I’ve always been interested in leadership, and I’d held offices all through school. But I hadn’t been in tune with Annapolis politics. Even though I’d worked here nine years and lived here two, I didn’t know what ward I lived in. With a young family, I’d given up volunteering, and I want to help people.
Last year, I felt I could reach out again. Deciding to try to fill an unexpired term on the city council happened quickly, over just three days. I got the appointment, and now I don’t have any competition in this year’s election, which is a little disappointing because it will be five years without a test.
I won’t count up the hours I spend on city business because I don’t want my wife to know. It’s a good thing I’m well organized. And the parts of my brain I used in law are getting triggered. I didn’t like adversarial conflict, but I liked researching, articulating and defining policy. To be part of making good policy was my goal as an environmental lawyer, and I’m getting to do that.
But now I take the perspective of a businessman. Raising taxes is equivalent to raising prices in the store. In both my store and city government, I’m looking for more effective ways to minimize expense and raise revenue.
Marc Lucas, Annapolis
Midshipman ﬂ Submariner ﬂ math professor ﬂ actuary ﬂ owner-manager of Piccola Roma
My life has been an interesting journey from the U.S. Naval Academy all the way to Piccola Roma with both a nuclear submarine and a whole lot of math in between.
Math fascinated me throughout school. I was a chess-playing athlete, earning high school varsity letters in cross country and track.
In my senior year, I scored a perfect 1,000 in the National Academic Decathlon, which brought me full scholarship offers from colleges and universities throughout the country. But from the beginning I had my sights set on the Naval Academy. I was interested in nuclear science and wanted to experience a school that would change me.
My four years at the Naval Academy certainly expanded my horizons. After graduating with a degree in mathematics and training in martial arts, I served three and a half years on the USS Key West (SSN-722), a Los Angeles Class nuclear submarine.
We cruised off of Bosnia during the conflict there and took part in the rescue of a downed American F-16 pilot. That rescue was celebrated in the film Behind Enemy Lines with Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson.
Following the September 11 terrorist attack on New York City, the Key West was redirected to the Northern Arabian Sea where we launched Tomahawk cruise missiles against targets in Afghanistan.
After sea duty, I taught mathematics at the Naval Academy. Eventually I became a health care industry actuary.
I’m also a real estate investor; as an actuary I have to understand risk and can evaluate trends and cycles. I bought a building on Main Street in Annapolis leased by Piccola Roma, and when the restaurant went bankrupt, I picked it up. Income has doubled in the couple of years I’ve owned and managed Piccola Roma.
The restaurant is really more a love than a livelihood. I constantly enjoy both the challenge and the atmosphere.
Michael Moore, Prince Frederick
Vietnam vet ﬂ Calvert County Commissioner ﬂ barber ﬂ freight train conductor
I served in Vietnam as a lineman working in communications and saw combat with 36 Charlie. The GI Bill paid for barber school and Baltimore Community College, and now I own Mike’s Barber Shop in Prince Frederick with three employees. So I’m back living and working where I was born.
But my main day job is as conductor on CSX Railroad’s local freight trains running from Washington, D.C., to Morgantown. I’ve been working here for 42 years — and no, I’ve never been unemployed, never had trouble finding a job.
I have been, and continue to be, much involved in state and community affairs.
I was elected a county commissioner for Calvert County and served from 1990 to 1994, serving as president of the Board of County Commissioners from 1991 to 1992.
During the Glendening administration, I was appointed to the Maryland State Transportation Commission. In 2000 I was nominated by Congressman Steny Hoyer to go to Poland as one of 12 to talk about minority participation in democracy.
I’m not intending to run for county commissioner again at this time, but I continue to be very interested in community affairs, in looking after small business, our young people and our veterans.