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The men who shaped the lives of some familiar faces in the community

From the June 2018 400: The Life

We reached out to some familiar faces in the community and asked what they most remember about their dad or another important man in their life. The impressions they made live on in these faces you see every day.


Sheriff Ron Freeman
Sheriff Ron Freeman
“First and foremost my dad taught me to have faith in God. Secondly, Dad taught me the value of hard work. Not just hard work, but working hard for your family.”

- Ron Freeman, Forsyth County Sheriff

“My father was a salesman who never met a stranger; he spoke to everyone and treated everyone with respect. He said, ‘There’s a lot in this world to learn if you know the difference between when to stand up and when to shut up.’ That’s a lesson I am still trying to work on each day!”

- Lynn Jackson, Administrator, Northside Hospital Forsyth


“My father was wonderful, wise and very smart. He was a man ahead of his time. He died young and he was very quiet and thoughtful. He enjoyed life, simple or fabulous. I talk so much I guess he wondered if I was his! He was my ‘someone to watch over me’ and I have missed him since the day he died. He truly loved me. I thank God for the years I had with him.”   

- Linda Ledbetter, Councilwoman, City of Cumming


 “The most important thing that Daddy taught me is that hard work and your word will carry you as far as you will ever want to go. Along the way, the worst thing that a man could ever be labeled is lazy.”

- Jason Shivers, Division Chief, Forsyth County Fire Department


Jeff Bearden, Forsyth County Schools Superintendent
Jeff Bearden, Forsyth County Schools Superintendent
“My dad certainly endured his share of tragedies and challenges in his lifetime; however, he had zero patience for self-pity. He consistently focused on the good things in life:  people, places, and experiences. His positive mindset has been very influential in the personal and professional lives of my brothers and I.”

- Jeff Bearden, Forsyth County Schools Superintendent


“His big thing was integrity. I think I learned from him that it’s always best to keep your word and be very open about things ... He was an FBI agent for 29 years and taught us to appreciate what we had and that family was always important. Family came first and integrity was the bedrock of who he was.”

- Ann Crow, Chairwoman of the Forsyth County Board of Education


“My dad is kind of a quiet guy… but I think what I have taken from my dad is that he is a very dedicated, hard worker. I watched him for years work very hard and be dedicated to any organization that he was involved in, and sometimes I think it was advice, but I also think, ‘I’ve got that in my DNA.’”

- Laura Stewart, Director of Communication, Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce


“Probably one of the biggest things I learned from my dad and that he modeled was: ‘G.F.C.I. - God, Family, Career, In that order.”

Chris Emmitt, Lead Pastor at Mountain Lake Church
Chris Emmitt, Lead Pastor at Mountain Lake Church

- Chris Emmitt, Lead Pastor at Mountain Lake Church


“I am who I am today because of my father. I have his personality. He was one of the kindest and giving men I have ever known and I miss him every day.”

- Marjorie S. Reeves, Organizer for S.A.L.T., Seniors and Law Enforcement Together


 “I did not grow up with a father to celebrate with each year. My father died at age 34 when I had just turned 7. I have memories of my dad, and more importantly, stories of him from my family and my dad’s friends.  What I know about him is that he must have suffered greatly in the last few months of life, because he refused to take morphine so that my brother and I would not have our memories be of a father that was incoherent. From old news articles and stories given to me as I grew older, I know that he was a man of faith, integrity, energy, humor and love — all traits I want to emulate in my life to honor him. Thanks, Dad.”

- Joni Smith, Executive Director of The Place of Forsyth County



Shandra Dawkins, Executive Director of Family Haven
Shandra Dawkins, Executive Director of Family Haven
A really good friend of the family, he always said: ‘Life  is 10 percent of what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.’  The other one is from my brother: ‘Never, never, never give up,’” -by Winston Churchill.

- Shandra Dawkins, Executive Director of Family Haven