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Rosa had facilitated an arrangement that resulted in her son landing a position with the State Highway Department in the Highway Design Division in Atlanta. “I was surrounded by engineers and students from Georgia Tech,” Angelo said of his initial feelings of intimidation. He had been working for the State Highway Department only a short time when a former Berry College classmate told him about a job opening at North Fulton High School in Buckhead.
Angelo recalls he arrived unannounced in the office of North Fulton High, School Principal Warren T. Jackson. “We talked for 30 minutes and he asked how soon I could come to work.”
As Angelo taught industrial arts at North Fulton High another opportunity for career growth soon presented itself. When he was told that the school was considering instituting a driver education class, Angelo said he chuckled at the idea. He had been driving since he was 13 on the family farm, but he embraced the challenge.
In the pilot program, Ford Motor Company agreed to furnish the school with a specialized driver education car. “They were old clutch cars with dual controls,” Angelo said. The driver education curriculum was based on an AAA (American Automobile Association) text, and Angelo educated himself in workshops at Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia, in Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., and Utah, among other sites. “I enjoyed every minute of it!” he said of the experience.
It was the National Education Association (NEA) Traffic Safety Education Division that initiated driver education programs across the country, and Angelo started attending the organization’s annual meetings. “The State Department of Education did not have an office for driver education, but I found out that the National Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was offering a $5,000 scholarship to State Departments of Education for interns.” Angelo made a connection with a classmate from Berry College who was an official in the Secondary Education Division of the State Department of Education, and an intern was hired. By then, the federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration was established and money was available through that entity for driver education.
When he was approached about heading driver education for the state, Angelo struggled with leaving North Fulton High where he was involved in the Junior Civitan Club as an advisor. He had taught there for 22 years and he had met his wife, Latin teacher Nell Dahlberg, at the school. There were a lot of good memories at North Fulton High, but he took the state job and promptly set about lining up summer training for state educators who would be teaching driver education. The rest, as they say, is history. After setting up and running the state’s driver education program for 18 years, he retired in 1993.
Angelo and Nell were married for 20 years. After the couple divorced, Nell taught at the prestigious Westminster School in Buckhead. She now lives in Duluth with the couple’s youngest son, Martin.
Angelo has never been known for being idle. He still rises early and gets to work on the farm with his faithful dogs, Lola and Muffin, tagging along. He has been busy serving in various capacities in the community. Besides his work with the Pioneer Historical Society and the Sons of the Confederacy, he is active in his church and served as president of the Wheeler County Chamber of Commerce in 1999.
During his tenure in Atlanta, he served as President of the Northside Atlanta Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce), as President of the Buckhead Civitan International Club, and as President of the National American Driver and Traffic Safety Association (NADTSA) in Washington, D.C. He organized the Southeast Region of NADTSA, which covers 13 southern states. He also started a Traffic Safety Club at North Fulton High School, and was active in the American Driver Education Association, and the Travelers’ Protective Association.
Angelo’s key to longevity is simple and straightforward. Aside from the great genes he inherited from his mother, he attributes his long and active life to clean living. “I grew up on a farm and learned how to do manual work. I do not imbibe in liquor or tobacco, and I try to eat a balanced diet, but I do lean a little toward sweets. I pray every morning when I get up and I don’t sleep late.”
His advice to young people who are beginning to find their way in the world is: “Take time to smell the roses, because later in life you will be sad if you didn’t. Ask your parents and grandparents about your family. I could just kick myself for not asking my mother more and recording it.”
With all he knows and has shared with others, and everything he has accomplished, one might wonder how he could have done more. But that is his outlook: there is always more to do and staying active is the best way to live a long and happy life.