• Jill

A Legacy of Love

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

If you follow us closely, you may have noticed that for most of the month of February, we had to close our Etsy shops. Sadly, we lost our sweet daddy after a valiant fight with leukemia. Below is a tribute that I wrote to him from my other blog site, and I thought that I would share it here, as well.

On March 7, 2020 the world lost a great man. My father was one of the very best. He graced this earth for 75 years, and the world was better for it. My father was a man of strength, strong Christian faith, unfailing integrity, immense intelligence, and amazing perspective. To me, he was a guiding light, a supporter, a cheerleader, and just so much more. He left a legacy of love… love of God, love of family, and love of life! Finding the Words

I have struggled to find the words to describe the legacy of such an impressive man. I knew that I wanted to write about his unparalleled life, but I was having trouble getting started. Then I remembered something very important. About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about him. (You can read it by clicking here). I didn’t actually think much about it at the time, but he was so proud of me. He called me a few days later and gushed and carried on about it like only an overly proud parent would. He was so excited about my new blog, and couldn’t wait to read more. It was then that he made me promise that I would continue to write. I will keep that promise. This, sweet man, is for you…

His Legacy in Me

How does my Daddy live on in me? I am happy to say that I received some physical characteristics from my father. I inherited his tall stature, his beautiful, graceful hands, and his distinctive and distinguished nose. Daddy and I shared a love of reading, sports, travel, photography, and fountain pens! I inherited his wonderful sense of humor, his ability to make people feel at ease, and his innate gift of empathy. Like my father, I am an introvert and an intensely private person. I couldn’t be prouder to have been his daughter! “That man is a success – who has lived well, laughed often and loved much, who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children, who has filled his niche and accomplished his task. who leaves the world better than he found it, who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it, who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.” Unknown

A Successful Man

I think that this quote sums up my father’s life quite nicely. There is no doubt that by most any person’s standards, he lived a successful life. Aside from the obvious achievements of being a gifted athlete, a naval officer, college professor, administrator, and eventually the CEO of a very large healthcare system, I would argue that those were not his most impressive accomplishments. Rather, his most impressive accomplishments were instead the amazing relationships that he cultivated with others. I would further argue that this is true for all of us. One of the things that will matter the most to all of us when we draw our last breaths will not be big houses, fancy cars, or material wealth of any kind. What will matter primarily are the relationships that we have cultivated with others along the way!

Husband and Friend

Daddy was a devoted husband. He was extremely devoted to my step mother. Daddy and Sharon were pretty much inseparable! He was also a friend and mentor to many. In the last few weeks, my sister and I have been literally thrilled to hear so many heartwarming stories from many lovely friends who loved him dearly. We learned things about him that we never knew, and we will be forever grateful. “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”

Jim Valvano


While Daddy was a wonderful husband and friend, I am here to tell you that he was an unbelievably fabulous father. The above quote is beautiful and so very true. One of the greatest gifts that I ever received from my father was that of unconditional love and acceptance. Daddy accepted his girls for who we were! He always encouraged us to follow our dreams and was proud of us beyond measure. He never failed to tell us that he loved us and was proud of us, and that is a gift that will last a lifetime! My father was one of my biggest cheerleaders! He was so proud of the fact that my sister and I were both public school teachers. He always wanted to hear stories about our experiences in the classroom. One of the greatest gifts I ever received from him were these words from the acknowledgments of his book The Hidden Power of Relentless Stewardship. “My two daughters, Jill and Jana, inspire me. They are so dedicated to the profession of teaching that they purposely carry on in a public school in Texas that serves young children from disadvantaged families. Their commitment to these children is so moving and effective that each has been selected as Teacher of the Year in their area. Jill and Jana are following in the footsteps of my mother, who was a teacher, and I only wish she could have lived to see the great work they are doing.” Don Jernigan

I share these words from my father not to brag, but to emphasize his supportive and encouraging nature. He was so proud of us no matter what! My sister and I have since retired from the classroom and have begun new careers as small business owners. Guess what? Daddy continued to cheer us on until his last breath.


He was just as proud of his grandchildren as he was his girls. As was his nature, he always made them feel special and loved. He listened to their stories, took a real interest in their lives, and encouraged them in their various adventures. He, like so many other grandparents, could even be somewhat obnoxious in his pride. Daddy showed off photos of his grandchildren quite frequently and told more than his fair share of stories about their accomplishments and exploits. He loved his grandchildren dearly.


Daddy was a true intellectual. It was awe inspiring to sit and talk to him. He was literally a walking encyclopedia. If you ever wanted to know something, just ask him! We always laughed about the “tutorials” that he would give us about a wide range of topics. Quite honestly, much of what he said went completely over our heads. I was always impressed even if I didn’t completely understand it. One of the most endearing things about him was that despite his amazing intellectual capacities, he could talk to anyone and appreciated what everyone had to say. Adding to his brilliance was the fact that he was also an avid reader. He read just about anything he could get his hands on. Daddy was always happy when he was reading. He spent literally hours of his life sitting in the mall waiting on all of us as we shopped. That sweet man never complained. He would just take his reading material and entertain himself for hours reading and working crossword puzzles. A Leader

My father was a natural leader. He led by example. He was always humble and never spoke about his accomplishments. As a matter of fact, my sister and I are still finding out about things that he accomplished that we never even knew about. He usually wanted to talk about others and not about himself. I truly admired that about him. He showed the courage to make difficult decisions and to stand up for his convictions. He exhibited a strong moral compass and made decisions based upon what he felt was right for his family or company and not what was right for him. Quite honestly, in this day and age, we could use more leaders like my father. Final Thoughts

“When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him, lies on the paths of men.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The world has lost a great man, but all is not lost! Daddy lives on in the lives of all who knew and loved him. We can take great comfort in knowing that he knew that he was loved and cherished by his family. I am so proud that I had the opportunity to be with him in his final days and that nothing was left unsaid. Until we meet again, Daddy…

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