Thank Your Lucky Stars

Webster describes a star as a celestial body with twinkling points of light. The wise men of old followed a star to the baby Jesus. Centuries ago, sailors learned to navigate themselves around the world by the stars.
Today, many look at people who have reached a certain status in their field as stars.
Do we look at these people as twinkling points of light? I imagine some do. Many stars use their celebrity to accomplish great works of charity.
The late Danny Thomas and his St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital is a wonderful example. Now, many years after Mr. Thomas left us, his work lives on in the children they help each and every day.
I have been blessed to know many stars in my life. People who I have admired. People who have been guides to me in the darkest of night, or the brightest of day.
First and foremost, one of the greatest stars I have ever come to know is Jesus. His light has lead millions now for 2000 years. For this Georgia boy, he is always there to lean on, or to guide me through whatever comes my way.
My parents were stars to me. No matter what they faced, the great depression, war, meeting the needs of my brothers and I, they were always there doing what had to be done.
Many teachers were stars to me. At any given point in my schooling, I can find one teacher who stood out in giving me more than what was required. They would make whatever I wanted seem important. No matter how dumb the question was, they made it seem intelligent. One teacher in particular, because of his love of music, changed the direction of my life. Dr. Donald Grisier brought the fiddle into my life and set the stage for God to open so many doors.
My first employer, Joe Wyche, ran the local Dairy Queen near where I grew up outside Atlanta. He and the managers, David and Ed, gave me a chance to earn a little money. I was able to learn responsibility and how to deal with customers. Thanks to their guidance, I soon became one of the youngest managers in the Dairy Queen system. But before that I could make the best cone curl in the business. All the people I worked with there were stars to me.
Now I have mentioned parents, teachers and a restaurateur as being stars. Now I’ll mention a couple of people who you may consider to be popular stars.
When I was still in my teens, Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music, took interest in this young fiddler. He spent many hours sharing his music with me. Grand Ole Opry stars Jim & Jesse also become huge advocates and mentors in my life. They were my guides, my teachers, my friends and some of the highest stars in the musical heavens to me.
Carroll O’Connor, TV’s “Archie Bunker” and “Chief Gillespie,” and Alan Autry, TV’s “Bubba,” both took an interest in me as a person and in my work. They took the time, along with many producers like Walt Dornisch, directors like Peter Salim, Larry Hagman and Leo Penn and other actors to encourage me, teach me and give me opportunities to go where a boy from Georgia could not even imagine — on “In the Heat of the Night.” These and so many others are stars to me from that period in my life.
So many stars touch our lives every day. To me a star can be anyone who does what they do well. Then they share that God-given talent with others. They may be a good cook, a great mechanic, a successful salesperson, an inspiring clergyman, a visionary statesman or a cone-maker. They are all stars to me. Why don’t you take a look at the stars in your life? and let them know that your life is better because their light is shining on you. Is your light shining on those around you? If so, you can be a star too.

Dallas can never be the same

Like many people around the world, I was saddened by the news just after Thanksgiving that someone who had caught the fascination of 300 million people in my youth had ended his adventure on this earth.
I too wondered for a summer “Who Shot J.R.?”