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Local leaders share their fathers' words of wisdom

Samuel Ozburn ---- Samuel Ozburn is a Superior Court judge for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit. His father is the late Albert B. Ozburn Jr., who worked as a rural mail carrier in Newborn. Albert Ozburn died in 2010. ---- "Three things were important to my father -- God, family and community. As a child I attended church meetings where I watched him give reports as the church treasurer and as Sunday school superintendent. Sunday school and church were important, never to be missed, and the lessons from church were lived out daily by him, and I was watching. He once told me to never buy a cabin at the lake because I would feel like I had to spend so much time there and I would quit going to church on Sunday." ---- "He started the Newborn Horneyhead Fishing Tournament, organized a monthly breakfast for men from area churches, and taught me that serving others without recognition leads to true joy. This has shaped me and I have tried to convey this to my two sons as well. ---- "Daddy always emphasized the importance of education. He told me that I could buy a new car but it could be wrecked. A new house could be lost in a storm or to the bank, but an education cannot be lost and it will enable you to be your own boss and to serve others in greater ways."

Samuel Ozburn ---- Samuel Ozburn is a Superior Court judge for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit. His father is the late Albert B. Ozburn Jr., who worked as a rural mail carrier in Newborn. Albert Ozburn died in 2010. ---- "Three things were important to my father -- God, family and community. As a child I attended church meetings where I watched him give reports as the church treasurer and as Sunday school superintendent. Sunday school and church were important, never to be missed, and the lessons from church were lived out daily by him, and I was watching. He once told me to never buy a cabin at the lake because I would feel like I had to spend so much time there and I would quit going to church on Sunday." ---- "He started the Newborn Horneyhead Fishing Tournament, organized a monthly breakfast for men from area churches, and taught me that serving others without recognition leads to true joy. This has shaped me and I have tried to convey this to my two sons as well. ---- "Daddy always emphasized the importance of education. He told me that I could buy a new car but it could be wrecked. A new house could be lost in a storm or to the bank, but an education cannot be lost and it will enable you to be your own boss and to serve others in greater ways."

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Harriet Gattis ---- Harriet Gattis is a member of the Rockdale County Historical Society and tourism manager for the Conyers Convention and Visitors Bureau. Her father is the late Joseph C. Brown, who worked as a medical doctor, specializing in obstetrics, in Conyers for decades. ---- "He was my daddy for 38 years. He was a wonderful man and so influenced my life and who I am today. Daddy taught me a deep love and appreciation for Conyers and Rockdale County history and its people," said Gattis. ---- "He loved medicine and his patients. Riding along with him on house calls, I was able to witness his dedication to his practice, his love and care of his patients, and get a history lesson."

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Ashley Roesler ---- Ashley Roesler is the executive director of Rockdale Emergency Relief. Her father is Steve Young, who has worked at Cofer Bros. building materials supply company for 42 years and is currently vice president of sales at the business. He is also a recreational football coach. ---- Working full-time and raising a family, Ashley's father had to consider seriously what he did with his free time, she said. ---- "One of the things I do remember and function off of is he always said you can't get back time. Oh my gosh, is that so true. So spend it wisely, and he meant spending it with family and friends" said Roesler.

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Steve Horton ---- Steve Horton worked for the city of Covington for 35 years, including as police chief, director of public works and most recently as city manager. His father is the late Cecil Horton, who died at age 44 when his son was just 21. ---- "The (advice) that I tell to my son is you have to work before you play. The lesson I got out of that is that you have to take care of the most important things first... you have to take care of your responsibilities first." ---- Cecil Horton also stressed the importance of honesty to his son. "He'd say, 'Son, you got to always tell the truth, it might not always taste good, like medicine, but you only have to do it one time. Your words are probably the most valuable thing you got,'" said Horton. ---- Horton's father encouraged his son to find wisdom in the Bible. "He read the Bible a lot. He would say, 'Take time to read the Bible. It's the playbook for life.' I believe it too, the older I get," said Horton ---- "He was may best friend. There's no telling what I'd know if he'd lived longer."

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Buncie Lanners ---- Buncie Lanners is the executive director of the Arts Association in Newton County. Her father is Sam B. Hay, Jr. whose jobs have included farmer, dairy farmer, silo salesman and construction business owner. He also served on the Newton County School Board. ---- "My dad probably taught me better than anybody else about how to communicate with my children ... He was very much a person who would come back to your room and talk to you about how you were feeling, and that is something that fathers of that generation didn't do and that's been key in my child rearing," said Lanners. ---- "He's known for his sayings. So many of mine are my dad's ... You have to have a plan. You may deviate from your plan but you have to have a plan. I've been able to put that into practice, even with the non-profit ... He certainly taught us the value of hard work and family. What a privilege to have been his daughter and to learn from him."

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Wayne Kerr ---- Wayne Kerr is a long-time dentist and community volunteer in Rockdale County. His father is the late Joseph Chester Kerr Jr., who served in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He also worked as a contract manager for Martin Marietta, and in Florida served as an attorney, a Juvenile Court judge and Superior Court judge. ---- Kerr said his father ran his courtroom like an efficient business, and that he often chided both children and parents in his courtroom for their behavior, said Kerr. ---- "He would scare the slop out of these people. He didn't have any repeat offenders," joked Kerr. ---- Words of wisdom from his father remain with Kerr daily. "'Personal integrity, professional integrity -- success demands both.' I have that on my wall in my study," said Kerr. "He was a man of phenomenal integrity, and I honor him to this day for his industry, his integrity and his service."

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Carter Rogers ---- Carter Rogers is a thoracic surgeon at Newton Medical Center. His father is Bill Rogers, 82, who worked as an insurance broker, and is now a bailiff. ---- One of the most important pieces of advice Carter Rogers' father passed along to him, that he shares with his sons, is to perform above and beyond your job. "Always do more than is expected of you and people will think well of you. Do more than just get by," said Rogers. ---- Rogers' father also provided his son with sound financial advice. "He always stressed living within your means. Don't spend money you don't have," said Rogers. ---- By serving on the Rockdale County School Board and Conyers City Council, and helping found the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity, Bill Rogers also set an example of service. ---- "He stressed giving back to the community," said Rogers.

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Special Photo ---- Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn, at left, is shown here with his father, Albert B. Ozburn Jr., and his sister, Julianne Schell in an old family photo.

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TK Adams ---- TK Adams is a retired Newton County music educator and conductor of the Newton County Community Band. His father is the late Eddie Adams, who imparted these words to his son. ---- "When you work for a man give him quality work. Speak well of him or say nothing at all that will hurt the company. The quality of your work is a reflection of your family, and do your best in everything you do. If you don't do your best, you'll find yourself looking for another job," said Adams.

For this Father's Day, the Citizen polled several local community leaders and professionals about their fathers' influence on their lives. We posed the question, "What is the best advice your father ever gave you?" Though responses varied, they all had one aspect in common -- a tremendous love and respect for the man who helped raise them. We hope you enjoy these nuggets of wisdom as much as we enjoyed gathering them.