Athens Review, Athens, Texas


January 28, 2013

Fathers are making a difference, one way or another

Athens — Maybe you caught the story this week in our paper regarding the death of Tony Douglas.

If you live in Athens, know anything about Texas country music or like fresh produce sold with a smile, you’ve probably heard of him. I had the pleasure — and I truly mean pleasure — of writing Mr. Douglas’ front-page obituary on Wednesday.

Over my career, I’ve grown fond of writing about those who have died. Truthfully, it’s one of the harder things we do as journalists, picking up the phone or meeting in person to ask questions of a family member or friend who is no doubt working through the early stages of grief.

And when that task is done, we find ourselves with the near-impossible task of trying to boil down an entire life into a few hundred words.

I’ve not had a harder time doing the latter than I did with Mr. Douglas. Fitting his storied country music career into a small box would have been tough enough. But then I talked to his family, and I know now that even when I finish this piece, I’ll have still not done justice to who Tony Douglas was as the father, husband and spiritual leader of his household.

I met with Mr. Douglas’ three children on Wednesday afternoon. Over a span of about 30 minutes, they took turns telling stories about their father. They laughed, and at other times, sat quietly, holding back tears.

I shared just a few of those recollections in our Thursday edition. I won’t circle all the way back and rehash all that information now, but from the mouths of his own children, he was a tough disciplinarian who didn’t bend when it came to issues of character or integrity — his own, or that of those in his circle.

That steadfast character was dwarfed only by the love and selfless commitment he had for his kids and for Mim, his wife of nearly 64 years. As has been well-chronicled, he passed on a contract offer with the Grand Ole Opry because he didn’t want to move his family to Nashville. Some have said that decision hurt his chances at becoming a much bigger country music star.

As I listened to Douglas’ now-grown children tell their stories, I couldn’t help but think about how rare a thing they possess. It was something I never had growing up, having never met my biological father.

In September 2011, I learned the man who I had always thought was my father (who lives in California), in fact, wasn’t. I got the paternity test results back on a Friday night in Bullard, Texas, as I sat in a press box and waited to cover the Athens Hornets football game.

I’ll never forget how numb I felt that night. Truth be told, I’m still a little numb. Maybe the fact that I can’t even remember if I’ve ever written about this proves it.

Needless to say, some things leave a lasting impression. You can move on, get over it or be bitter about it, but that’s just the way life is sometimes.

Having given up the notion of ever finding my real father, I’ve coped through my faith in God and the gift that He’s given me — namely, an opportunity to be the father to my two children that I never had.

You see, I’m a big “legacy” guy. I believe broken homes give rise to more broken homes. Children who are abused often become parents who abuse. Sons who see their fathers walk away often become fathers who don’t stay.

Such legacies are hard to shake. They stick to generation after generation like napalm — never killing, but burning painful holes through the layers of a family and leaving scars in its wake.

Legacies are why parents who earn college degrees are more likely to have children who earn college degrees. They’re also why the same last names appear in the police reports for decades.

I can only hope and pray my fatherless legacy dies with me, and that my son, and his son, and his son, will know nothing different than men who fight for what they believe in and for the ones they love.

Then maybe when I’m gone, my kids will sit around and talk about how their dad was tough, but how he loved like nobody they’ve known before or since. I hope the laughter and tears that accompany those stories form the foundation of a new legacy.

A legacy like the one Tony Douglas left behind Tuesday.

Jayson Larson is editor of the Athens Review. Reach him at

Text Only
  • 4-12 Rich mug.jpg Meal time for kitties can be an adventure

    I believe God gave us housecats because we didn’t have enough to worry about. They are puzzling little puffs of fur that seem to be constantly developing new sets of peculiarities.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG I've got my rib back!

    Much has changed since Jan. 19, 2008.
    Bruce Almighty, Man on the Moon, Major League – gone.
    Complete rooms decorated with sports memorabilia – gone.
    More than a dozen trips to catch baseball in Arlington – gone.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Exhausted, but happier than ever

    Wow, what a rush!
    I can not begin to explain the emotions I experienced on Monday, March 17 as Maylee Grace Wilson made her debut.
    Yes, there were tears.
    Yes, this “Iron Man” showed the emotion he hoped and prayed for.
    Over the two weeks I was home with Maylee and my wife Lacie, I experienced a plethora of emotions - emotions rather rare in my life.
    As expected, there was little sleep at the hospital. With the way Maylee acted her first night, I thought I might be able to catch a little shut-eye once we got home.

    April 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joe new mug.jpg Music helps deal with life’s situations, good or bad

    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.”
    With music, it can help us deal with tragic situations, help us deal with the loss of a loved one, make us want to dance, make us want to sing along to the words, or help us calm down after a long day of work.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • kathi New  copy.jpeg ‘Small town, USA’ has advantages, disadvantages

    Living in a small town can have its advantages and disadvantages. For me, personally, I love “Small Town USA.”
    Some disadvantages possibly are: if you do something out of character, everyone will know by tomorrow morning; everybody tends to be related, so watch what you say;  limited resources;  it's not easy to broaden your horizons; and driving more than 50  miles to the nearest mall.



    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg A habit in a society and in a home that should stop

    It was Tuesday that I was walking back to my car on the Walmart parking lot, when a business acquaintance of mine who comes to the Review office sometimes, stopped her car in front of me to say hello.
    I noticed her doing something that happens at almost any moment she is around, without the office surroundings.  She had a cigarette in her hand.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • RICH-USE THIS ONE.jpg TVCC Lady Cards add to school’s winning legacy

    When I came to work in Henderson County in 1991, the Trinity Valley Community College Cheerleaders had already picked up a couple of national titles. Coach Connie Russell had the team doing things few had ever seen cheerleading squads do. Russell retired after winning five times on the national stage.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Let’s all follow Tom’s lead

    My first-born child is here and there is a hero for her to admire already.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • COLUMNIST.jpg Giving businesses choice is not legalizing discrimation

    The bar owner was blunt. A couple of weeks ago, he announced that people of a certain persuasion would not be allowed into his establishment.
    To demonstrate his seriousness, he had head shots printed of those who are not welcome to make sure that his security team would deny them entry.

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG I am Iron Man, the suit and I are one

    The suit is damaged, it might not hold up this time.
    Like many men, I have hidden my emotions behind a suit of armor for years.
    Happy, sad, excited or mad – my external emotions were never displayed.
    In some ways that was a good thing, but in others...

    March 8, 2014 1 Photo

Biz Marquee
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest