The mission of the Rye Foundation is to make a life-changing impact on North Carolina children
by providing grants in the areas of Religion, Youth, and Education.
News from the Rye
4 Lessons from Ray and Wilma
Annie Murray was right.
You may remember that the Canadian-born singer produced a hit single that contained these words, “We sure could use a little good news today.”
If your local newspaper is like mine, most of the news is very bad. As I write this column, our lead story in Forsyth County involves the arrest of two 12-year-olds for shooting a 15-year-old. In other news, a public official had to resign because she sent inappropriate text messages. On the sports page, another pro athlete failed a drug test.
Amidst this backdrop of malfeasance and mayhem, the Mount Airy News printed a human interest story that left me smiling. It is reassuring to know that positive things still emanate from Andy Griffith’s hometown.
Featured in the Mount Airy weekly were two people named Ray and Wilma Yoder, who live in Indiana. This married couple embarked on a very ambitious journey: they wanted to enjoy a meal in every Cracker Barrel restaurant in the United States.
That’s right, all 637 of them.
The Yoders traveled to Mount Airy, and when they finished their Surry County meal, they had dined at 635 Cracker Barrel establishments!
I believe we can learn several important things from these traveling Hoosiers.
1. Ray and Wilma set a goal.
It all began in the 1970’s, when Ray’s job entailed delivering vehicles to dealers across the entire country. Wilma always accompanied him, and they often stopped at Cracker Barrel for a hot meal.
2. Ray and Wilma did not use age as an excuse.
They are both 79, and their goal is within sight. The remaining two restaurants are located in Idaho and Mississippi.
3. Ray and Wilma shared a lot of laughter.
According to the feature article, they have traveled over 5 million miles together on life’s highway. In 2015, she experienced a health crisis. Still, they enjoy each other’s company and the prospects of another quality meal.
4. Ray and Wilma respond quickly to their own mistakes.
After being interviewed and posing for photos with staff members, the couple left Mount Airy and realized they had forgotten to leave a tip. Ray promptly made a phone call, and promised to send a generous tip in the mail.
The next time you pull off the interstate and head for a Cracker Barrel restaurant, look for an elderly couple from Indiana. Chances are, they won’t be sitting in the rocking chairs out front. I would look for them in a corner booth, enjoying their meatloaf and making memories. What kind of legacy do you plan to leave?
Campus Gazebo Dedicated in Memory of Engineer
A major gift from the Rye Foundation brought great news to the campus of Nazareth Children’s Home in Rowan County. Recently, the Home held a ceremony to dedicate the Van Jackson Crotts Memorial Gazebo.
The naming opportunity was made possible by a donor-advised charitable gift from Marcus B. Crotts and his wife, Margo Jackson Crotts, of Winston-Salem. Their philanthropy is a memorial to their son Van, who died of cancer on January 25, 2015 at the age of 56.
Respected throughout Forsyth County, Van Jackson Crotts was an Eagle Scout and a graduate of N. C. State University. He also earned an M. B. A. from Wake Forest University, and served as President of Crotts and Saunders Engineering.
Vernon Walters, the President of Nazareth Children’s Home, spoke at the dedication and said, “The children of Nazareth will use the gazebo as a place of hope and healing. We are extremely grateful to the Crotts family and the Rye Foundation for this special investment in the lives of children.”
Yadkinville Dentist Remembered for His Generosity
Technically speaking, Dr. Frank H. Walker did not have any children. In reality, his philanthropic gifts helped and nurtured thousands of boys and girls across North Carolina.
Born in Elkin, he spend his career as a dentist in Yadkinville and lived his final years at the Brookridge Baptist Retirement Community in Winston-Salem. He died on February 25, 2015 at the age of 91. Louise Walker, his beloved wife of 69 years, passed away in 2013.
Warren Steen, the president of the Rye Foundation, recalled Dr. Walker’s genuine interest in providing support for individual children. “Over the last five years of his life, Dr. Walker was one of the most generous donors to our foundation,” he said.
Even in his 90’s, Dr. Walker closely followed current events. He was concerned about violence in America, and believed in the Rye Foundation’s mission of making a life-changing impact on North Carolina children.
Although Dr. Walker did not have children of his own, his generosity aided thousands through the Rye Foundation’s opportunities in music, scholarships, sports activities and summer camps.
A charter member of the Deacon Club at Wake Forest University, he followed his team closely, and always appreciated receiving a schedule of upcoming games.
At his funeral service — held at the Gentry Family Funeral Home in Yadkin County — many reflected on the kindness and generosity of this humble man. And they came to the conclusion that he indeed had many children who counted on him for support and encouragement.
Dr. Frank Walker left a legacy of caring, serving and giving. What kind of legacy do you plan to leave?
Three Special People and One Vital Question
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.
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
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.