Three Special People and One Vital Question

by Warren Steen

During my career in philanthropy, I have canvassed and crisscrossed the state of North Carolina in an effort to match great people with great projects.

Yes, I have conducted business meetings in Murphy and Manteo. I have traveled from Hendersonville to Hertford, and from Waynesville to Wilmington. During one unforgettable stretch, I visited Clayton, Calabash, Charlotte, and Caswell Beach. Somehow, my itinerary was changed and I missed out on the picturesque mountain village of Cashiers.

A street sign in Davie County gives directions and direction.

A street sign in Davie County gives directions and direction.

Recently, on the way to a special event at the Oak Valley Golf Club in Davie County, I drove onto Legacy Drive. And it reminded me that each one of us is “leaving a legacy” through our friendships, achievements, and service to others.

Three special individuals have set a high standard for passing along values to the next generation.

1. Celebrating Her 111th Birthday

My friend Carlyle Hayes is thoughtful to invite me to his mother’s birthday party each summer in Winston-Salem. Sina Hayes was born in 1903, several months before the Wright Brothers made their famous flight at the Outer Banks.

Every gathering features a large crowd, great fellowship, and good food. In 2014, attendees gathered around the honoree and serenaded her with a joyful version of “Happy Birthday” on the milestone occasion. For most of us, it was the very first time we had sung the song on someone’s 111th birthday!

I am thankful for the Hayes family and for their love for their matriarch.

2. Making Sandwiches and Molding Lives

You may have read that Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy died on September 8, 2014 at the age of 93. On the day of his death, the company operated 1,800 restaurants in 40 states.

Several years ago, Mr. Cathy called me on the phone to discuss his WinShape Foundation. Later, we met face-to-face when he was 81 years old. I still remember what he said that day: “This is the most exciting year I have ever experienced.”

At his memorial service, very few speakers mentioned his phenomenal business success. Rather, they talked about his 50-year commitment to teaching the 13-year-old boys at his local church in Jonesboro, Georgia. And they talked about his firm belief that every single child deserves a fair chance in life.

3. A Day with Dr. Dobson

Leaders on family and children’s issues met in Charlotte. Shown are (from left) Dr. Tom Phillips of the Billy Graham Library, Shirley Dobson and Dr. James Dobson of Family Talk, and Warren Steen of the Rye Foundation.

Leaders on family and children’s issues met in Charlotte. Shown are (from left) Dr. Tom Phillips of the Billy Graham Library, Shirley Dobson and Dr. James Dobson of Family Talk, and Warren Steen of the Rye Foundation.

Many would say that Dr. James Dobson is the foremost authority on issues of parenting, relationships, and communications. He is known worldwide for his daily broadcast which is carried by 3,000 radio stations, and for his best-selling books like Dare to Discipline and Parenting Isn’t for Cowards.

It was a special honor to receive an invitation to meet Dr. Dobson during his appearance at the Billy Graham Library on February 14, 2015. And it was gratifying – but not surprising – to learn that the title of his latest book is Your Legacy.

All of us who attended the event left with a profound sense of gratitude for this man who has provided information and encouragement to families around the world.

One Final Question

Each of these citizens made a positive impact on their communities, their homes, and their nation. How do you want to be remembered?

Individuals who include the Rye Foundation in their estate planning can experience the joy of giving, and have the knowledge that boys and girls will be nurtured, instructed, and inspired by caring adults. Each of us can learn about “leaving a legacy” from Sina Hayes, Truett Cathy, and Dr. James Dobson.