My Father: A Man of Substance
Updated: Jun 12, 2019
“Don’t ever underestimate the impact that you may have on someone else’s life.” Anonymous
Larger Than Life:
In honor of Father's Day, I would like to tell you about one of the people who has made a lasting impact in my life...my father. There is no denying that my father has led a life of distinction. He is a former CEO, chemist, professor, naval officer, star athlete, author, the list goes on... The greatest thing about my father, though, is that he is one of the most humble, kind-hearted, and self-deprecating people I know.
My father grew up in a very small Texas town, where he was raised by parents who believed in hard work and the importance of education. He grew up working on their ranch and learned the value of hard work from an early age. He went on to become a football and basketball star in high school and eventually to earn his PhD in chemistry from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He took time in between to serve his country as a naval officer, and was stationed in Bethesda, Maryland when I was born.
In later years, he worked as a professor, in various leadership roles in higher education and in the healthcare industry, and eventually worked his way up to becoming the CEO of Advent Health.
A Gentle Giant:
Don Jernigan didn't rise to those heights by accident. He did it through hard work, grit, determination, and just sheer brilliance. It also required a strong ability to build relationships, as well as, the ability to empower others and lead by example.
All of these things are amazing and exceptional, but here's the best part...my father is also a kind-hearted, humble, selfless, gentle giant. I use the word giant quite literally, as he is a very tall and imposing figure. Those of us who are blessed to know him well, know that Don Jernigan is a man of strong moral fortitude and Christian faith. He is essentially a kind and tender-hearted man of integrity.
A Family Man:
My father is very much a family man. He is a very devoted husband. He values time together with his children and grandchildren. He understands that any time that can be spent with family is truly a gift. He has taken us all on some exciting and memorable trips over the years, and even though he lives in Florida, and the rest of us are in Texas, he manages to make the most of the time that he spends with us. He is a very proud father and grandfather and loves to tell others about his daughters and grandchildren.
Because of his humility, I'm not certain that my father truly understands the impact that he has made on so many. I see him daily in myself and my children.
I was blessed to inherit his positive outlook, work ethic, determination, and a true understanding of the importance of serving others.
My oldest son, Garrett, was blessed to inherit my father's truly brilliant and beautiful mind. He shares his grandfather's sense of duty, selflessness, work ethic, empathy, and grace. My youngest son, Gavin, inherited my father's athletic ability, grit, determination, drive, intelligence, and sense of servant leadership. What a beautiful thing it is to live on through your children and grandchildren. Billy Graham once said, “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
Currently my wonderful father is displaying many of his finest personal qualities and is serving, yet again, as a wonderful role model. He was diagnosed last fall with leukemia. He underwent a bone marrow transplant in February. While there have been a few setback along the way, he has faced this challenge head-on with grace, determination, and faith. He is a fighter, and I know without a shadow of a doubt, that he will, yet again, rise to the occasion, show that trademark determination and grit and be stronger for it.
A Role Model:
I have honestly been so blessed to have had two remarkable parents. While they each made their marks on our lives in different ways, there is no mistaking their influence in both their children and grandchildren. What a beautiful legacy!