Joe wore cardboard shoes when he was a kid. World War II was in full swing and leather was being rationed for the United States troops, so Joe and many other little boys like him strapped on cardboard shoes and went about their work and play. Curious and feisty, Joe was often seen riding bikes and picking peas, and quite often found his way into trouble around the farm he grew up on in Augusta, Georgia.
One day, a little girl moved in down the street from Joe. She was hanging upside down from a big tree in her daddy’s front yard as Joe came over, looked up, and Gladys said, “Me Tarzan!”
Joe’s response was, “Well, me not Jane!”
The rest is now, as we call it, history. The two cultivated a great friendship, got married at a very young age, and Joe was off to Turkey after enlisting in the US Air Force. Gladys returned to high school and graduated second in her class. What may have seemed like an unlikely arrangement for a successful marriage, at least by today’s standards, has spanned over 50 years for Gladys and Joe.
Joe served twenty years in the Air Force, including a run as a Wild Weasel Fighter Pilot in the Vietnam War, while Gladys raised three sons. Joe is shown in the photo at Myrtle Beach with his son and grandson in front of one of the F-100 Super Sabres that he once flew.
Following Joe’s retirement as a Major, Joe and Gladys took out a second mortgage on their home to start their first business. Spin forward another thirty years or so, and Joe and Gladys have become successful entrepreneurs with flourishing businesses across the nation. Their newest business, formed in 2002, is Chapin Furniture, located in the town of Chapin, about a twenty minute drive from the South Carolina state capital of Columbia.
Joe and Gladys can often be found down at the store, greeting customers, paying bills, and taking care of everything from mowing the grass to changing out light bulbs. Their down home approach to life and business has earned them respect in the eyes of their peers and community, and has created a family atmosphere at their business that first and foremost lets their customers know, “You matter to us and we are honored to help you furnish your home.” You can catch up with Joe and Gladys’s life stories by listening to their local radio commercials, or you can buy the book, written by their son Keith, entitled, The Tortoise Wins Again, from which the commercials are taken.