Louis L. Lesesne Jr., Essex Richards PA, Charlotte

In my early teens, I delivered newspapers seven days a week on a bike to 150 customers along a 10-mile route in a small South Carolina town. I was up every morning at 4:30 to finish delivery by 6:30 a.m. I learned how to work independently and to be responsible for myself. I was my own boss. I couldn’t call in sick. If I was going to be unavailable, I had to find and pay a substitute. There was no salary. My income was what remained after I paid for the papers. My customers paid me directly, 45 cents per week. If I didn’t collect, I didn’t get paid. Running this little one-person operation taught me management skills that served me well in the 25 years or so of managing my own law firm.

Vita: Born June 8, 1945, in Dublin, Ga.; bachelor’s from Davidson College and law degree from Boston University; wife and two daughters. Why he chose this field: By way of an interest in civil rights. I joined a law firm with three black lawyers in Greenville, S.C., in 1973 and cut my teeth on employment-discrimination cases. That continued when I moved to Charlotte in 1975 to work with Chambers Stein. I went out on my own in 1981 and began doing a spectrum of employment-related work, representing both management and employees. What he’d be if not a lawyer: Good question. It’s one I ask myself as I contemplate the possibility of retirement. Passions: Learning to speak French, gardening, genealogy, disaster relief. Hero: Carl Nance, a Charlottean and Duke Power retiree who after Hurricane Floyd moved to Tarboro for months to coordinate relief work. Don’t ask him to: Serve on a board of directors.