Although the cover of the book touts the bad boy side of its subject, Conway resident John F. Bauer, III (Johnny), The Gray Wolf is really a story of redemption and rehabilitation.
Now a confirmed solid citizen, Bauer is one of Conway’s favorite sons, ensconced in a Frank Lloyd Wright home. Bauer and wife Dianne are regulars at the local shag clubs in Myrtle Beach.
The book chronicles the roundabout way Bauer came to his current state of grace .The book retracing his route from juvenile high jinks, petty crime, gang membership, and then hard crime that had him bouncing from DC’s Lorton to Federal prison in Atlanta. According to Bauer, the purpose of putting all of this in a book is to show others who heading in that same wrong direction, that they too can escape the downward spiral.
Bauer told The Sun News, “David Small started the book about five years ago when he had a lull in his car dealership business. When things got busy again for him, he called in Dr. Thigpen to help.”
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Thigpen, a physician brought a new perspective to the book and added chapters of analysis of Bauer in between the chapters detailing his early exploits and later road to redemption.
Bauer says that the book’s authors, put about twelve hours of stories on tape and then did extensive research on his background, in Richmond, Virginia, Bauer’s home town, at Lorton and the at the Atlanta Federal prison whose programs set him on the path to redemption. They also followed up on Bauer’s thirty years as a successful chemical sales person and work in the California Big Brother program.
The preface and first chapter move a bit slowly listing Bauer’s impressive social lineage, and placing him in context. The chapters that stun you with Bauer’s exploits alternate with chapters that try to analyze the psyche behind those actions. The first few are a bit ponderous but stick with it, because after those first few chapters, the book takes off. Bauer says he read it all before they printed it, attests to the truth of it all and respects both the history and the analysis.
When The Sun News asked Bauer, what made a difference for him , he cites people’s faith in him—notably that of his father and the welfare head in the Atlanta Federal Prison. According to Bauer, his story is an example of how a compilation of prison programs gave him a new, legitimate focus. It cured him of the ever growing need for thrill seeking that got him into trouble in the first place and turned his undaunted nature to the pursuit of good. Added to that, his family provided a support system for him when he got out of prison. This personal support while he as in prison and when he got out, are what he thinks are important in returning any prisoner safely to society.
In addition, his time in prison provided him with an education, taught him to paint and play tennis at a high competitive level. Bauer has considerable art talent, he has been offered thousands for his portrait of JFK, and the cover of Gray Wolf features one of Bauer’spaintings.
He also took up tennis in prison, became a champion in person and, once out, continued to win awards. He worked 30 years as a very successful salesperson and then executive in the chemical industry before retiring. To repay the debt to those who helped him, Bauer worked with the Big brother program and fostered five troubled children since leaving the incarcerated world. At age 81, here on the Grand Strand, Bauer still paints, plays tennis and dances— a lifetime long thread that sustained the athletic handsome Bauer both during his incorrigible and solid citizen days. It’s an important story to share.
If you turned on the television or went to the movies and saw this story, you might say, “Far-fetched.” Some might say, “could not have happened.” Read the book, and if the story does show up on the big or small screen, you will be able to turn to the people beside you and say, “Oh yes it did happen, and the man lives right here in Conway.”
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At A Glance
Title | The Gray Wolf, Undaunted & Incorrigible
Authors | Dr. Ray Thigpen, M.D. and David J. Small
Cost | $14.95