Liz’s THD Reader Feature

I believe you can learn something from every person you meet, whether they are a CEO of an international corporation or a college freshman trying to find their way. There are many fascinating people on the Thought of the Day distribution list, and Liz’s THD Reader Feature is a way to share that wisdom.


Today is my Grandpa’s 93rd birthday. In honor of his big day, I interviewed him for the THD Reader Feature. Grandpa is a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, hall of fame swimmer, lawyer, judge, Cincinnati City Councilman, U.S. Congressman, newspaper publisher, businessman, and friend. Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

1. How did you get on the Thought of the Day distribution list?

My son, Bill, Jr. started the list and he added me. He shared with his kids a lot of the lessons my wife Nancy and I shared with our kids.

2. What is your favorite Thought of the Day and why?

“Start well, finish well.” Billy would send this thought of the day every fall for the beginning of the school year. He always credited me for the saying, but it was actually advice I received early in my career. A court clerk told me this when I launched my first political campaign. I’ll never forget that advice and how relevant it is to every aspect of life.

3. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Graeter’s Strawberry

4. What is your life’s purpose?

Making life better for the next generation.

5. (Besides marriage/having kids/etc.) What are you most proud of in your life?

I am most proud of helping my family when I was younger. Following WWI, my father became disabled and eventually his leg had to be amputated. I helped take care of my Dad when I was growing up. I dressed him every morning. I sold newspapers, cut grass, and shoveled snow to make money for our family when my Dad couldn’t work.

6. From your experience, what’s most important in life?

The most important things in life are those that are done for the betterment of your community.

7. What do you believe in?

I believe I was put on Earth to serve others and set a good example for my family. I believe in a better life after this life, where I am reunited with my family – my son Billy, my parents, and my brother.

8. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a professional athlete – a baseball player. The closest I got was when I was in Congress – I wore Johnny Bench’s jersey in the annual Congressional Baseball Game.

9. What is the one thing you need to do every day to get ready to take on the day?

Throughout my career – and even today – I read the lead story in the paper. I could approach my day best when I knew which event impacted the welfare of the community more than anything else.

10. What difficult situation happened to you that, in hindsight, turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

I always dreamed of going to Notre Dame for college. I wrote the swim coach a letter and asked him for the opportunity to be on the team. I never heard back from the coach and my heart was broken. I began studying and swimming at Purdue University, but then went to the University of Missouri, near where I was stationed during boot camp for WWII. Following the war, I ended up back in my hometown of Cincinnati where I attended the University of Cincinnati and competed on the swim team for four years, graduating with undergraduate and law degrees. My return to Cincinnati began a lifelong relationship with UC, college teammates and friends, and a reconnection with a high school date, Nancy Nenninger, who I have now been married to for 68 years.

11. Out of all the community work you did throughout your life – which was the most important to you?

The sport of swimming gave me the opportunity to go to college and get a degree. Giving back to the sport that opened so many doors for me and my family was important to us.

12. What piece of advice changed the path of your life?

I was in Congress in the 1970s and my friend Carl Lindner encouraged me to come back home to Cincinnati and lead The Cincinnati Enquirer. He advised me that I could make a bigger, positive impact on my community from Cincinnati rather than Washington. My career in the newspaper business not only took me all over the world, but it also allowed me to work with many people in my community to improve Cincinnati for our future.

13. How do you find balance in your life?

I spent 10 years of my career commuting to other cities. My wife Nancy did the heavy lifting of raising our seven kids while I was traveling. When I was home on the weekends, if I tried to tell anyone what to do, they’d jokingly reply, “hey we’ve been getting along just fine without you, so don’t think you’re suddenly in charge here.” Nancy and my kids always keep me in check.

14. When was the last time you took a leap of faith?

I switched jobs many times throughout my life, and each new chapter was a leap of faith. But, with a wonderful, supportive wife at home, it was possible.

15. What do you want your legacy to be?

I hope people will say that I had faith in the common man.

Previous THD Reader Features:

Kelly Higgins
Kathy Fish
Candace Kendle

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