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The Greatest Gifts, Part I

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The Greatest Gift, Part I

The first in our upcoming series—well-known Houstonians lend their voices on The Greatest Gifts they’ve been given and the greatest gifts they’ve given to others. along with something about which they’ve been most proud and a life lesson they wish to pass on to others. We are grateful for the participation of these outstanding citizens! Be on the lookout for the next one in our series!

Warner

Warner Roberts

Photo by Debbie Porter


What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever been given?
When husband, Bob (The Phantom) and I were first married, we had zero money! But, when the first Christmas came, he gave me a check for much more than he could afford.  I cried and cried. Why? He didn’t understand that I wanted him to select something – any little thing – as a gift for me.  Fast forward 20 years, and he surprised me on my birthday with a Silver Wraith Rolls Royce!  Now, that’s a great, fun gift!!
 
What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever given someone?
I had my mom, Ophelia, cook on my television show very often. (This is before David Letterman started featuring his mom.) I worked eight years to produce a heart-shaped cookbook filled with my mom’s recipes titled “Supermom’s Country Cookin’ Cookbook.” Then, we did a national tour for her to sign books … Washington, New York, Florida, etc.; and, we had a standing invitation to sign at all Barnes & Nobel bookstores. When I was young, my mother did everything in life for me; I gifted her with all my love and devotion and a cookbook that made her a little star.
 
What is the thing about which you are the most proud?
It’s so hard for me not to say my sons and family here, but you said no. This may sound strange, but it’s the first thing that came to me. I’m proud of the way I think—my positive attitude toward life, family, friends, strangers. I’m proud that I always want success for others, want them to find their heart’s desire and purpose.
 
What is the greatest life lesson you’ve learned and want to pass on to others?
Oh, my – there are SO many, but if I have to narrow to one: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” I’ll just slip in one more thing that I know is true. Any good thing that you do for others ALWAYS comes back to you. It’s the law of the universe!
Herring Joanne King Reduced

The Honorable Joanne King Herring

Photo by Gittings


What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever been given?
The Chapel donated by Larry Brookshire to the new Tellepsen YMCA in downtown Houston, which was named in my honor.

What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever given someone?
Freedom for the 500 girls in Afghanistan that I helped to set free with the assistance of Vicki Hollub (OXY Petroleum) and Lori Wachs (MSNBC).

What is the thing about which you are the most proud?
My village in Afghanistan which has saved so many lives and has set a new precedent for rescuing people from poverty, it works in the ghetto and it works in every country around the world … by helping people to help themselves.

What is the greatest life lesson you’ve learned and want to pass on to others?
Nothing in life is free and no effort you make for others is ever wasted. God knows exactly what to do with it!
Billingsleyfrank 1

Frank Billingsley

Photo by Evin Thayer Studios


What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever been given?
A little standing box from Kevin that says “I love you to the moon and back”–we often say this to each other so it was fun to actually get that!

What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever given someone?
When I was ten, I made a box out of popsicle sticks and decorated it with red yarn with the word DAD. I gave that to my dad for Father’s Day and he kept his watch and golf tees and cuff links in that box until the day he died.

What is the thing about which you are the most proud?
This is my 40th year as a TV weatherman. Who’d have thought?

What is the greatest life lesson you’ve learned and want to pass on to others?
The Golden Rule really does work … Every Time!
Duncan Deborah Reduced

Deborah Duncan

Photo by Gittings


What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever been given?

This is hard! Over the years I have been given so many things that came from someone’s heart, so in that sense, they are all priceless and sentimental. If I have to choose one, perhaps it would be the portrait done in thousands of tiny silk stitches. Several women in Vietnam gathered for months to make it.  It looked like an oil painting until you got up close and realized it was thread. What touched me most was the fact that several women, thousands of miles away, who didn’t even know me, gathered every day for months to make this beautiful art piece. A guest on the show ordered it. It always serves as a reminder that governments might not always get along, but people can and do, through community and acts of kindness.
 
What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever given someone?
When I first moved to Houston I saw a man on the street asking for money. I felt compelled to turn around and give him something. When I drove up to hand him $10, I realized it was a $100 bill I had for a deposit. I hesitated then thought, he needs this and there is a reason I felt compelled to turn around … WWJD? Fast forward 20 years—that man came to a show and told me, he was that man. He went on to say, the church that made up the studio audience … he’s the pastor.  He said that day turned things around for him. The thought that a stranger could look him in the eye, wish him well and care, meant that he was valuable. That reaffirmed my belief:  if you let God use you, you don’t have to figure out how.
 
Another gift:  Recently a woman from Pasadena saw the Houston Firefighters Calendar on Great Day Houston. She called and asked if we could make an old lady happy. Enjoy that calendar Mam, especially Mr. January, your birthday month! Yep, she got my calendar!
 
What is the thing about which you are the most proud?
I am proud to be a part of the tapestry of this city. It is so gratifying to be somewhere and have someone come up and explain their experience either on The Deborah Duncan Show or Great Day Houston. My job is to facilitate people’s stories. We give a voice to our neighbors and we give valuable information to our viewers. I love that because it helps build community.
 
What is the greatest life lesson you’ve learned and want to pass on to others?
Growing up I attended five elementary schools, starting in Taiwan. I never really had time to fit in and many times felt like I didn’t belong. It took me a while to realize that’s ok! When Pastor T.D. Jakes was on a show, I remember him saying, “How can you stand out if you’re too busy hanging with the pack?” In other words, as long as you mean well, just do you and be good with it. Don’t put yourself in an anonymous focus group every day. Instead, focus on your purpose and what good you can do each day.
Fryer Shara

Shara Fryer

Photo courtesy of Shara Fryer


What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever been given?
The shared wisdom from people I have interviewed or met through my life and travels.  If I were to name a material possession, it would be the Gibson mandolin, played by Terry Morris and Wade Stockton, that my father gave me before his death.
 
What is the greatest or most fun gift you have ever given someone?

When I was 16, I gave my parents a surprise 25th wedding anniversary dance, and the whole town of Hallettsville kept it secret with me.  That was fun! But back to a material gift… the late news legend David Brinkley was a great admirer of Winston Churchill, and I found and gave him a signed 1st edition of “Blood, Sweat and Tears”.

 
What is the thing about which you are the most proud?
Authenticity.  Knowing myself and staying true to that.
 
What is the greatest life lesson you’ve learned and want to pass on to others?
Life is change. Embrace it.
<a href="https://thesocialbook.com/author/scottevans/" target="_self">Scott Evans</a>

Scott Evans

Social Book Contributor

Scott Evans is a native Houstonian and the Publisher of The Social Book. His career has included success as a musician, management consultant, public relations firm owner, and technology consultant─all of which have injected him actively into the social scene for many years. Drawing on his musical background, in 1992 Scott co-produced a double CD called "Voices for Life" benefiting AIDS charities featuring Houston artists and highlighted by a music video of 200+ local celebrities singing Scott's original composition "Shades of Gray." Scott has hosted numerous events over his career and believes his best quality is his ability to make people feel a part of something special. (Photo: D. Jones Photography)
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