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Sometimes Being a Dad Doesn’t Mean You Have To Be Their Father

By: Hal Jones

Father’s Day Special Feature

This weekend is Father’s Day and I am taking this opportunity to thank all of the dads

I have had in my life who weren’t my father, but at some point had taken on a dad’s role for me.  Think of all the men who have affected your life in a positive way as you read through my list. Make a note to thank them.

So to Gordon Roberts my youth baseball coach back in Gorgas, Alabama who would take off from work and load all 12 of us into his 1963 Ford Falcon to play our afternoon games, my heartfelt thanks for that and for the role you have played in my family’s life ever since.  Thirteen people in a Falcon is possible if you have five in the trunk, five in the back seat and three in the front. Don’t even try this one anymore. They will arrest you, but in 1966 no one knew better. To Coach Joe Dale Perkins at Berry High School, now Hoover High of MTV fame, thank you for believing in me when you had no reason to and also to Coach Bob Finley, now deceased, I wish I had respected you in High School as much as I respect you now.  I can’t forget my youth football coach big Jim Phillips, who showed me that you can win championships without the kids everyone thought were the best athletes. To Coach Shug Jordan and Buddy Davidson, associate athletic director at Auburn University, thanks for taking me in and making me part of the Auburn family during college. Coach Jordan took an interest in me, Buddy asked me to play a part in helping realize the master plan for Auburn Athletics and with these two men behind me, Auburn was a great place to be. To Dr. Tom Steinfat professor of communications at Auburn University, thanks for rescuing me from undergraduate studies and placing me in the graduate program there while I was still a sophomore.  I am not sure what made you think it was a great idea at the time, but I did profit from those classes more. To Carlos “Doc” Heaton and Gerry Sutterfield of Palm Beach, Florida thanks for making it possible for a kid from Alabama to experience big time racing and spend time around legends of motorsports. Doc I still try and keep up with you when I go to Man ‘O’ War, but the old timers are fewer in numbers now. To Dr. Neal Berte, past president at Birmingham-Southern College the example you set for me while I was there has affected me to this day. Serving on the CMI Board with your son makes me reflect on those college days and your positive  influence on so many students even more now.

To Ed Johnson of Greene, RI, thanks for giving me a love of the ocean and sailing and trying to teach me stocks and investments. Looking back I should have paid closer attention to your talks on investing, back then I didn’t understand how lucky I was to be learning from the best. I do now.  By the way, I went to offshore sailing school and followed that up with getting my captain’s license.  To Walter Rush, my mentor scoutmaster at Troop 320  and legendary leader of one of the largest and most successful troops in Scouting’s long history, thanks for giving me the opportunity to take cover in the shadow of your legend.  I am not sure whether you were more a father figure or a brother, but since you are older than me and there is no Brother’s Day, this will have to do. Through more than a hundred Eagle Scouts, thousands of miles driving and backpacking in the U.S. and Canada hauling scouts all over this land, thanks for being the calming water in so many storms.  To my friend W.R. “Buz” McGriff, Athletic Director at the Atlanta Athletic Cub for 31 years, who when my dad was struggling with dementia in his older years, Buz asked to go backpacking with me for two weeks at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron, to show me that even at 80 a man can still accomplish great physical feats.  Buz died just months after returning from that trip, but he lived full bore until that last day. The AAC Award for excellence and character is named in his honor. No one lived up to those two criteria more than Buz.  I have been blessed by these men and so many others and I know if you stop and think about it, your life has been shaped by many father figures who weren’t your biological father. Take time to thank them. Maybe you want see them this weekend, but next time you see them, take a moment to let them know they are appreciated.

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