What My Father Taught Me

Sons Share Why They Have Followed in the Footsteps of Their Fathers

Photography by Emily Long

The relationship between father and son is one of empathy, understanding, vulnerability, and virtue. Between the basic lessons, like how to hit a baseball, and the critical teachings, like how we should treat our partners, our dads provide guidance during our most crucial developmental milestones.

In their own words, these gentlemen share what they’ve learned from their fathers, and why they’ve chosen to follow in their footsteps.

Dr. Andrew McDaniel and his father Dr. James McDaniel

Dr. Andrew McDaniel

Pictured with his father, Dr. James McDaniel

Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics of Chattanooga

As a child of an orthodontist, I grew up fascinated with my father’s ability to transform people’s smiles, including my own. As I got older, he encouraged me to explore different career paths, but I always came back to the idea of following in his footsteps. During dental school and orthodontics residency, one is trained as a clinician on the technical aspects of how to care for and treat teeth. It was not until I joined my father in practice that I truly learned that caring for patients is so much more than just treating their teeth. Patient care is a skill that comes with time, not training, and I could not have asked for a better mentor than my father. When I joined him in practice, he allowed me the freedom to set up new office policies and implement new treatment philosophies. He didn’t have to do this, but he did. We have shared many changes over the years – new office constructions, renovations, and most recently a practice merger. Throughout it all, he has always wanted to see me succeed, even if it meant putting his own goals and plans aside for my benefit. This is the type of person my dad is and who I try to emulate.  My father is selfless, kind, and supportive, and I hope that I can instill these character traits in my own children as they grow.

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Brian Conn and his father Paul

Brian Conn

Pictured with his father, Paul Conn

Lee University

My father is a teacher at his core, but the more important lessons he has taught me haven’t been in a classroom. I’m going to list things I have learned from watching him over the years. And I suppose life will be the exam over how well I learned it.

Be kind and gracious. Listen, observe, and try to understand other perspectives. Read everything you can. Doing something right is worth extreme personal effort. Every human being has value. Have high expectations for people, and they’ll prove you right more than they prove you wrong. Have higher expectations for yourself. Dreams are the fuel of a better future. Look ahead; only look behind for context, not excuses. For everything in your life that’s beneficial, there is someone to thank for it – express gratitude.

Working together for over 20 years, I’ve learned too many things about higher education to list here, so instead I’ll sum up the most important things I’ve gleaned from him here at Lee University.

Every single student is the apple of someone’s eye, the focus of intense personal love and hope. We can serve them better by learning to see each of them that way. It’s a complex time for most everyone who goes to college, but it’s an ideal place to make a lasting impact in their lives. If you find work that is challenging and that you feel you were built for, it’s a noble way to invest one’s life.

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Hovig Yacoubian and his father John

Hovig Yacoubian

Pictured with his father, John Yacoubian

Yacoubian Tailors

My father (and mom too) has shaped my worldview to a greater extent than any other institution. His work ethic and desire to provide for his family serve as a working example of what it means to be a man. He came to the United States not really knowing the language, not knowing anyone other than his brother, and not having very much money. Because of the opportunity afforded by this great country, and his diligence and tireless work, he provided for himself and was able to raise his family. Anything is possible if you are willing to see it through.

His unconditional support and tolerance have shown me what it is to be human. He has guided me when I’ve needed it, but also allowed me to fail and learn on my own. He has always had a knack for when and how to let me learn life’s lessons.

Beyond the life lessons, the teaching, and the care, I feel as if I won life’s biggest lottery. I’ve been loved for my whole life, and for that, I’m infinitely thankful and lucky. When you know that you’re loved, regardless of any and all conditions, you’ve received the greatest gift you will ever get.

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Andrew Godbold and his father Bill

Andrew Godbold

Pictured with his father, Bill Godbold

Leitner, Williams, Dooley & Napolitan, PLLC

My father’s mantra is worth repeating: “If the facts are on your side, quote the facts; if the law is on your side, quote the law; and if neither are on your side, quote the Bible.”

Bill (I call him that around clients and it still feels strange) enjoys a reputation as a hard-working, fair, and extremely capable attorney. He has received numerous accolades that only serve to confirm that point, but joining the legal profession provided yet another perspective of his strong character.

I never cease to be amazed how he can invalidate the opinions of an opponent’s expert witnesses while maintaining civility and showing respect. Sadly, this is becoming a lost art.

Just as a photographer works to keep a subject from being overshadowed, Bill has encouraged me to develop my own practice and personal style as an attorney. We tend to approach cases from differing perspectives, and when we tag-team depositions or hearings, our different life-perspectives yield better results for our clients. 

In my eyes, Bill’s greatest accomplishments come from his role as a father and grandfather. His 40+ years practicing law pale in comparison to the past four years as he has assumed the role of grandfather to my 4-year-old identical twin boys. Teddy and Beau think the world of him – indeed both of my parents – and are fortunate to spend time with them at the lake or their home several times a week. I only hope that I can set the same positive example for them that has been shown to me. I am truly grateful.

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Johnathan Johnson and his father Alfred

Jonathan Johnson

Pictured with his father, Alfred Johnson

Church of the Firstborn

One quote that will always stick with me that my father would tell me is this: “Good understanding makes good relationships.”

What he was telling me is that you don’t have to always agree with someone to understand someone. I truly believe that this life lesson is more valuable today than ever before. We are living in a time when everyone has something to say but no one wants to listen.

It’s not always about being right but doing what’s right. My father taught me that the right thing to do is to hear people out, because even if you can’t win the argument, you can save the relationship.

This is the reason I decided to go into ministry like my father – to help people understand that the most important things we have in life are first, our relationship with God, and then, our relationships with each other. My father helps me to accomplish this task with my family at home, at church, and in life.

I am sure that if I can just hold on to these principles I will have just as much, if not greater, success in ministry.

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Nerren and Win Pratt and their father James

Nerren & Win Pratt

Pictured with their father, James Pratt

Pratt Home Builders

My father has always been one of my biggest influences and role models in shaping my thoughts and decisions. As a young kid, he always reminded me to return what I borrow in a timely manner and to always put things back where I found them. He taught me to be humble and to be a saver.

After I graduated college and we started a business together, I took to heart one of his more memorable pieces of advice: “If you simply do what you say you are going to do, when you say you’ll do it, your odds of success will increase tremendously because most people don’t.” That statement has always resonated with me when I’m faced with business decisions, and I feel strongly it’s why our business has experienced the success that it has for over 20 years. -Win

My dad has taught me a lot of life lessons, but the most important lessons are determination, focus, and a never-give-up attitude. No one’s life is easy, but you must be determined to meet the daily challenges head on and have a never-give-up attitude to win each day. Ultimately, if we win more than we lose, we will succeed in life. Also, if you stay determined and focused, you will succeed because others will become distracted and lose focus. Just be the last man standing, and you will be at the top because others will become distracted, lose focus, and fall off the wagon. -Nerren

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Weston Wamp and his father Zach

Weston Wamp

Pictured with his father, Zach Wamp

Millennial Debt Foundation

My dad taught me to give a speech based on three main points. So here are three things he’s taught me about life in and around politics. First, for years he’s said that “neither political party has an exclusive on integrity or ideas.” This is important to remember in these hyper-partisan times. Second, he often says “the word encourage means to give courage.” He’s been an encouraging force in the lives of thousands of people in our community. If you know him, he’s probably grabbed ahold of your shoulder and let you know how much he loves you and bragged on you to whoever is around. In that way, he’s a lot like his dad, the late architect Don Wamp. And lastly, he’s instilled in me and my sister not to hold grudges. In the world of politics, that’s not always easy, but the man just does not hold grudges.

Despite a lot of justified cynicism about politics, my dad was a citizen legislator who did it the right way and never forgot where he came from. Those are few and far between these days, but they are usually the ones who make a difference. It’s been a privilege to team up in recent years advocating for bipartisan reforms to clean up the way money dominates Washington. And more recently, he joined the board of the Millennial Debt Foundation, a nonprofit I created that is focused on convening generational leaders to address the national debt.

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Dr. James Busch and his father Dr. Joseph Busch

Photo by George Christian

Dr. James Busch

Pictured with his father, Dr. Joseph Busch

Prime Imaging

When I completed my medical training at Harvard in Boston, I chose to return to Chattanooga largely in part because of my father’s influence on my career. My dad has such a passion for medicine that it can be contagious. Practicing with him over the last 16 years has been very exciting, and we’ve achieved many national firsts and grown Prime Imaging and DRC into the largest outpatient radiology practice in Chattanooga.

One of the most important things I learned from my father is that drive and effort can achieve a great many things that you might not otherwise think are possible. My dad grew up in a working-class household and was told that he should not consider college, let alone medical school. His drive and will allowed him to become the first in his family to graduate from college as well as the first Busch to graduate from medical school. That passion to push the envelope has permeated throughout our practice and facilitated the group to maintain excellence both locally and nationally. Even at 75, he is considered one of the top five prostate radiologists in the world and continues to strive for innovation in prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment. We are great friends and have a lot in common both in medicine and outside of work, especially a love of sailing and boating. Working with him these past years and transitioning the torch has been fun and such an honor.

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