It’s a simple question, but the answer is rarely that simple. Indeed, most people have difficulty answering it at all. Few of us contemplate our legacies at all, even fewer actually do anything to consciously shape it. Most people adopt a qué sera attitude, figuring what will be, will be.
A couple of items involving local sports figures caught my attention the past few days. Sports stars have had an interesting transition the past few decades. Just a generation or so ago, they were among the most idolized public figures in America. That’s hardly the case today as their carefully crafted public personas are far too often brought down by substance abuse, gambling, sex scandals, violence or simply boorish, insensitive behavior.
But for every O.J. Simpson, there’s a Kurt Warner. For every Tiger Woods, there’s a Casey Blake. It was the actions of Warner and Blake that caught my eye last week.
Warner is a legendary figure in his home state of Iowa at the age of 39. After working as a stock boy for a supermarket chain, he rose through the football ranks to be a two-time National Football League most valuable player before calling it quits last week. Warner and his wife, Brenda, are widely respected for their philanthropic efforts through their First Things First Foundation and he was named the Most Caring Athlete last year by USA Weekend magazine.
It’s hard to say which was more famous during their amateur careers in Indianola, Iowa – Blake, the starting third baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers, or his wife, Abbie Archibald Blake. But the couple have eternally endeared themselves to the youth of Indianola with their gift of $1 million – half of the $2 million the community is trying to raise to improve the high school athletic facilities, including an indoor track and completion of a football field.
The Warners and the Blakes have created legacies that extend well beyond their families and serve as stellar examples for us all by following the Golden Rule of legacy planning: Your legacy is only as good as the life you choose to lead.
Writing prompt for the day: Have you done anything to preserve your own personal legacy?
Larry Lehmer is a professional personal historian and legacy planner who helps people preserve their family histories. To learn more, visit his web site, send him an e-mail or follow him on Twitter.