Ohio's Education Cowboy 

The jobs may be gone, but the hat hangs on.

Industrialist and charter school entrepreneur David Brennan -- seen here yukking it up with state legislators in 2001 -- wears cowboy hats in tribute to a moment of self-congratulations. In 1986, Brennan bought a steel mill in Alabama. The locals took him for a Yankee carpetbagger, a scoundrel. A reporter asked Brennan how it felt to be the guy in the black hat. "I'm saving 1,500 jobs," he said. "I'm the guy in the white hat."

An Alabama businessman who read the quote sent Brennan a white hat, which he quickly adopted as his trademark. The fashion statement endures, despite the eventual loss of the jobs. The mill, which Brennan sold in 1995, closed three years ago.


More by David W. Martin


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