Henry "Buck" Stith, CE 1958
The following is a Living History interview with H. H. "Buck" Stith, Jr., conducted on February 22, 1996, at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum at Georgia Tech, by Marilyn Somers. The subject of the interview is student life at Georgia Tech. Mr. Stith begins by saying that he was born in Atlanta, grew up in Atlanta, went to school in Atlanta, worked there for over 36 years, and that he is still there. Mr. Stith was a very active athlete at Russell High School. He was a member of the football, basketball, track, and tennis teams. He had hoped to get a football scholarship from Tech, and had even been recruited as a junior in high school, but he hurt his back playing football. After recuperating, Mr. Stith switched to basketball and ended up getting a basketball scholarship from Georgia Tech, conditional upon his back injury. Others, including his father, thought that Mr. Stith should have attended Auburn or Clemson to play basketball, but he knew he wanted a Tech education. His father had attended Tech for one quarter and knew how hard it was, which was a shock to Mr. Stith at first. The basketball coach at Tech then was Whack Hyder, who himself had lettered in football and basketball at Tech. He was a very good, yet very strict coach, Mr. Stith recalls. In his first quarter, Mr. Stith played basketball, joined the Sigma Nu fraternity, and attended all the home football games. Mr. Stith remembers always being sleepy while attending Tech, because he was always so busy. One professor that made an impression on Mr. Stith was William B. Johns, a teacher of engineering drawing, who failed Mr. Stith in order to make him learn the basics of engineering. Mr. Stith finally learned to "balance" himself during his sophomore year. Mr. Stith talks extensively about Tech basketball including traveling, the opening of Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and the stress of being a student-athlete. Mr. Stith had met his wife, Mary Ann, while in high school and they dated the entire time he was at Tech. Mr. Stith states that the best part of Tech for him was Civil Engineering and that he would do it over again the same way. Mr. Stith was not able to graduate on time due to a technicality requiring Georgia history for graduation. He graduated in September of 1958 instead of June because of this. He then got married and began working for the Highway Department and was put in charge of building Interstate 75 between the Varsity and Grady Hospital. At the end of 1958, Mr. Stith decided to take a leave of absence to help his father out in his new construction machinery business, Stith Equipment. He had no intentions of working there permanently, but ended up working there 36 years. Mr. Stith, Sr., had a law degree, but never practiced law. He had worked earlier for Tri State Tractor, which Mr. Stith, Jr., would later purchase. Stith Equipment sells bulldozers, cranes, and other large construction machinery, specializing in hydraulic machines. Mr. Stith says that his Tech connections have helped him over the years. Stith Equipment later became the first company to import construction machinery from Japan, from such companies as Hitachi and Komatsu. Mr. Stith later became president of the National Equipment Dealers Association. Mr. Stith sold the company recently to a Swedish firm, mainly because he wanted his employees to have a stable future. Mr. Stith then tells stories about Dean George Griffin, Coach Bobby Dodd, Dr. Glenn Rainey, and other Tech professors. Since graduation from Tech, Mr. Stith has been involved with Tech in several ways, including serving as president of the Alumni Association. Mr. Stith comments about the ways athletics have changed since he was at Tech. He concludes by discussing Atlanta's business and social community and that he will continue to be involved with Georgia Tech.
1996 February 22