A lot is said in the wake of the deaths of celebrities, much of it by people who never really knew the person who passed. We feel like we knew them because of the image we had from our television/movie screens and magazine covers. I think we often relate to or feel affection for the characters they play as much as anything else.
Because I am not really inclined to be a fan-girl I don't always get it. However, the death of Truett Cathy has had me thinking all day. Most know him because of chicken sandwiches and a refusal to have his stores open on Sundays--but our community has the blessing of seeing the generosity that resulted from his business success. As I have thought about him and other famous people we've recently lost I can't help but hang on this: He didn't just play a character, he was a man marked by character.
Even though I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cathy, he truly impacted my life. By virtue of Berry College, our town hosts campuses for Winshape Summer camps, stellar marriage retreats, amazing foster homes and leadership programming. We are surrounded by people whose lives have been directly impacted by his life of generosity.
I didn't need to meet Mr. Cathy to know without a doubt that he was the real deal.
The people I know who work for Mr. Cathy's organizations--from the offices to the stores and within countless ministries in between-- are focused on excellence, service and the Lord.
The chicken sandwiches are awesome, but the eternal investment of those profits is the real story.
I have friends whose marriages have literally been resurrected through the work of the intensive marriage retreats.
I have watched real lives changed as foster kids have been brought into families with full time parents who are fully funded by the foundation Mr. Cathy's chicken sandwich business funds. They sit next to you in Sunday School, you've met at equestrian camp and in dance class--kids who have endless opportunities despite rough starts because of the vision and investment of Mr. Cathy.
Your Dad & I have been blessed by Winshape Marriage adventure programming and sailing trips.
Kids who might not have ever had the opportunity to attend Summer camp have been granted the experience.
College scholarships have changed the course of lives of people I know.
Leadership paradigms have been changed...
The tagline from Winshape Foundation's website really sums it up. "This is about life on purpose."
It started with a little restaurant in a small town in Georgia. A reminder that no job is too small or unimportant to be used for great purposes. Its proprietor was a faithful man who honored the Lord and chose generosity over greed and purpose over prosperity.
His life verse? "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches." Proverbs 22:1
I hope each time you pass the statue of Mr. Cathy outside our local Chick-Fil-A you'll forgive me for pausing just a moment. I pray it will serve as a reminder of a life well lived. Work hard. Honor the Lord. Live a life of love and generosity.
A true gentleman, full of principle, work ethic and devotion to community. This is a legacy to be esteemed, an example to follow, a life to celebrate. A true hero--not just a work of fiction manufactured to sell movies.
I am grateful for your life, Mr. Cathy.
Rest in Peace.