Courage, convidence, moral conviction and integrity

Published 6:05 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I noticed the email from an unknown sender. The subject line said simply, “Thank You.” Despite warnings about opening emails from people you don’t know, I could not help myself, and in this case I was rewarded.

It has been 30 years since I have seen Andy Womack. His father was a trusted employee and friend of my father. Andy went off to the Marines and served at Camp David. Though he was younger than me, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the way he looked in his dress uniform.

He came to work at the peanut company after his service. The military and a peanut mill are pretty far apart in structure and discipline. After a while, Andy moved on with the desire to find his own way. Different in many ways, we shared that need to find our own place.

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Andy saw my email address on a Facebook page dedicated to our common hometown. After all these years, he reached out to me. While I was included in his email, it was really about my father.

I responded by telling him how much his own father meant to my Dad. “We should all be so fortunate to have that kind of bond,” I told him.
“Our fathers both had courage, confidence, moral conviction, and integrity,” Andy said. “Those traits served to cement a strong bond between them.”

My father passed away 12 years ago. Bobby Womack, Andy’s father, died just a few years earlier. We both aspire to be more like them and we admitted to each other that all these years later, we still miss them terribly.
Sunday is Father’s Day and I knew I wanted to write something about my dad. It was a gift to have an email from someone more than three decades in my past talk about my own father this very week.

I have said before that my grandfather was my hero but my father was my teacher. What I didn’t realize when I first said those words was just how much he taught me. I don’t hold my father up as someone larger than life. Rather, more than anyone he just taught me about life; the real kind that we live every day.

I know my father would be proud of me. I just wish I could tell him one more time how proud I still am of him. In the words of my newly rediscovered friend, Andy, my father had courage, confidence, moral conviction and integrity.

I could not have said it any better myself.

Dan Ponder can be reached at