If you’re a dad, relaxing with the Sunday paper, either in print or online, is exactly what you should be doing right now, and hopefully, it was delivered to your bedside alongside a hot breakfast and handmade card.
It’s Father’s Day, a time to thank the role models, allowance dispensers, coaches, counselors and aisle walker-downers in our lives, the men who showed us how to face the world.
To celebrate dear old dads everywhere, the MDJ reached out to some prominent locals to ask them the most important lesson their father ever taught them.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes said his father, Bill, died in 2005, at almost 90 years of age.
Before Barnes got into law or ran for office, he was pitching in at the family store in Mableton alongside his dad. He said Bill Barnes only had a seventh grade education, but taught him a lot about business and life.
“He had all of these sayings. It’s hard just to pick one of them out. … One of them was, ‘The most important thing about making money is getting up out of bed every morning and going to the store and putting the key in the door and opening the door.’ And it’s a great rule for life. Another one that I always thought was great was, ‘We trade with folks for a lifetime, just not today.’ Which means treat everybody nice. And another one I loved was ‘Always look after those boys that wore muddy boots. They fed us for many years.’ The farmhands and the workers.”
According to Barnes, one of the funniest things he recalled his father having said occurred when he was sore with someone at the store.
“We had all these cousins and family working at the store. I was loading the drink box, Coca-Cola box, and he walked up there, he said ‘Give me a Coca-Cola,’ and I gave him a Coca-Cola. He was mad at somebody. He said ‘You know, everybody that works for you is going to steal a little bit.’ Says ‘They’ll take a candy bar or a pack of cigarettes or maybe $10 out of the register.’ He said ‘That’s the reason I like to hire family. At least when they steal from you it goes to one of your own,’” Barnes said with a laugh.
Get Marietta realtor Carey Cox talking with his dad, Dan Cox, founder of the Marietta Museum of History, and before you know it, the two will be cracking up.
Carey Cox said his dad taught him to play guitar, and you’ll catch the two playing duet from time to time, but he said the most important lesson he learned from his dad came when times were tough.
“I think dad taught me no matter what the odds are, when times get tough, they are temporary and just keep your head down and plow through,” he said. “I think he did that by example. It was a common theme when I was growing up.”
Attorney Tyler Browning practices family law alongside his father Thomas Browning’s Marietta law firm, Browning & Smith.
When they’re not working on cases, you can often find the two hiking or hunting together, or trying new cuisines at exotic restaurants.
Tyler Browning said his dad’s advice has helped him in the law field, but also in his personal life.
“My dad taught me, to use a common phrase, you get more flies with honey than vinegar,” he said. “We work in a very high conflict profession, we do family law litigation. So there’s a lot of conflict there, but even when we’er in those types of situations that are very high conflict, I don’t think it ever helps to be needlessly aggressive, needlessly cruel, anything like that. Something my father taught me is being nice to people, kind to people, compassionate to people, even in very difficult situations, will pay off in the long run.”
State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, R-east Cobb, came to politics from the world of medicine. Prior to running for office, she was an orthopedic surgeon and co-president of Resurgens Orthopaedics. There, she oversaw over 100 mostly male orthopedic surgeons.
Kirkpatrick said she may not have had the guts to stand up as a leader or to run for office if not for the encouragement she got from her father, David Kirkpatrick, a railroad worker who served in World War II and celebrated his 100th birthday this year.
“He always told me since I was a little girl that in America, hard work and determination will get you wherever you want to go. … He said that from the time I was little, and in fact he specifically said, ‘Just because you’re a girl doesn’t matter. If you work hard enough and don’t give up, you can do whatever you want, even if you’re a girl.’ Back in the day, being a girl was not what it is now.”
“He is someone who never gave up,” she added. “He always has an optimistic attitude even though he’s 100 and in a nursing home. He’s really been a symbol for the whole family, not just for me.”
Another woman of science turned politician, Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid was an engineer before she ran for office, but said she would not have achieved either of those goals without encouragement from her dad, Mark Smith.
“He always tried to teach us that we could do anything we put our minds to, to see no limit. … I would never have been an engineer without my father,” she said. “He really opened a lot of doors. He was an engineer, he’d take us to work at the manufacturing plant, and as you know, I followed in his footsteps and became a manufacturing engineer. My dad has had a profound impact on me.”
She added that she initially made the decision to run after getting advice and encouragement from her dad and her husband Craig Cupid.
Marietta Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson said her dad, David Richardson taught her the value of hard work.
“Work hard for the things you want,” she said. “No one will give anything to you for free.”
Richardson said her dad enlisted into the military after high school in the 1950s and went to Officer Candidate School at a time when black men were not often accepted there, she said. He served until 1970, when he retired as a major.
Richardson followed in her dad’s footsteps, serving in the Army herself for over 20 years.
“My father always just told us to work hard,” Richardson said. “My brother’s in town visiting, and I said to him, ‘What was the most important lesson daddy gave us?’ and he said the exact same thing.”
Another veteran who won elected office, State Sen. Michael “Doc” Rhett, said his dad, Army corporal Harold Rhett, taught him to take responsibility for what he does.
“He always emphasized to me to make sure that I’m always accountable for my actions, and that’s very important,” Rhett said. “It enabled me to always put thought into my actions and the consequences that came from my actions. A few times, he’d show me the where a lack of planning would lead, when he’d have to walk me to the woodshed. But it helped me to become a good man because I not only have to think about myself in terms of the repercussions of my actions, but how it will impact other people. I represent about 200,000 people, so every day I have to think about my actions and how they will affect others.”
Former Cobb Commissioner Bob Weatherford said his father, Methodist minister John L. Weatherford, taught him both the importance of kindness as well as the importance of standing up for yourself.
“He taught me, don’t let anyone confuse your kindness with weakness,” Weatherford said. “What he meant was that a man can be kind but also strong, and you can be kind to everyone, but don’t let it make you weak. Do what you have to do in life, just don’t let anybody take advantage of you. He was as kind as he could be and helped anybody, but he wouldn’t take a lot of gruff.
Former Cobb County Commission Chairman Bill Byrne said, as a kid, he’d try to be the best at everything but spread himself too thin. His father, William J. Byrne Senior, told him he should specialize, focus on the things he could be most successful at.
“He said ‘Don’t try to do everything, be selective and be the best.’ I never forgot that.”
Byrne, a retired U.S. Marine, said it was his dad who steered him toward the Corps.
“During the Vietnam era, I told him I wanted to be a pilot, but I didn’t know which service to select to go through, and we talked about it,” Byrne said. “He said ‘Well, what do you think is the best service to display your skills?’ I said the Marine Corps. He said ‘Then it sounds to me like we don’t have anything else to talk about. What are you waiting for?’ So I did.”
Attorney Lynn Rainey said his dad, postal clerk Lloyd “Too-Tall” Rainey, so called because he was over six feet tall at a time when that was uncommon, cut an imposing figure.
“We’re talking about a man who was born in 1905 that was one of 9 children who grew up on a Georgia dirt farm and came through the Depression as well as World War II and was involved in the D-Day invasion.”
Rainey said his dad led by example, demonstrating rather than telling his boys how to live their lives.
“He was always in church and took his four boys into church every time the doors were open,” Rainey said. “He was an example of who I ought to be. … He was never one to really preach, but he was one to show and to emulate what it was like to be a man. … He lived his 90 years as somebody who showed his four boys how to live because of the way he lived his life.”