Frankly, I am surprised to still be here. I spent several decades trying to work myself to death by being the first one in the office and the last one to leave and to always have a briefcase full of stuff to worry over when I got home and to get as little sleep as possible.
I was positive that Southern Bell and later BellSouth would not survive without my heroic efforts. Neither did, by the way. Southern Bell became BellSouth and BellSouth was absorbed by the “new” AT&T. So much for my heroic efforts.
I am not nearly as smart today as I was when I was I was a young pup in the business. I look back on how confident I was in those days and how little I really knew. I am living proof that ignorance is bliss.
I have had a lot of role models in my life but none more important than the late Jasper Dorsey of Marietta. Mr. Dorsey was vice president and CEO of Southern Bell’s operations in Georgia when he plucked me out of a business office to manage the public relations operations in the state. He also caught me at the pinnacle of my self-convinced brilliance and by the time I left his organization nine years later to take his old job in Washington, D.C., I was a humbler and wiser soul.
Jasper Dorsey taught me a lot about the business world including that there was no place in his operations for anything but excellence and the margin for error was very small. He might forgive you one mistake if you learned from it, but not two.
He also taught me a lot about life. It was under his tutelage that I learned my most valuable life lesson: We should leave this world better than we found it. Otherwise, we have no reason to be here. Jasper Dorsey certainly made my world better.
There have been some uniquely great moments in my life, such as seeing the Olympic torch lighted in ancient Olympia, a scene not witnessed by many people on this earth. I have been in the Oval Office a number of times, wishing my Momma and Daddy could have seen their urchin acting like a swell.
(An aside: I happened to be in the White House the day of the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995. Not knowing what was happening or who might be responsible, I was hustled into the Situation Room along with several others until it became clearer what had transpired. It was at that point that I decided I never wanted to be president of the United States. I might pick up the Red Phone to order a pizza and get us all blown to smithereens.)
There have been unfathomable tragedies as well. It has been four years since our oldest grandson, Zack, collapsed and died while training for the Atlanta Marathon, an event he had participated in a number of times. For those of you who might not know, Zack, the son of UGA parents and two UGA grandfathers, was an unrepentant Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket and in his junior year there.
When Zack died, I said I could never pick on Georgia Tech again. My heart wasn’t in it. Tech fans wrote me to say that would not be what he wanted and to continue to give them my best shot. They could take it and give it back equally. That was a class thing to do. If things don’t go well in Athens this afternoon, I expect to hear from most of them, class or not.
Two months after Zack left us, young Cameron Charles Yarbrough showed up on Nov. 22, our first great-grandchild. The young man will likely never know the hurts he has healed with his appearance.
As we have been doing since his arrival, Cameron and I will share our annual Cameron and Pa Birthday Bash, an outré-exclusive affair that is invitation-only. We will scarf birthday cake and ice cream and have a great old time while everyone else stands around and watches enviously.
From East Point to this point, it has been a good ride full of ups and downs and much longer than I ever imagined. Thank you for being a part of the trip.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.