By CAROLYN S. PETERSON with KELLEY CARNALL
We’ve all heard at one time or another that, ‘Anyone can be a father, but it takes a special man to be a dad.’ Being a dad encompasses so many things in life, and we may not realize that until the day we say good-bye. A dad is there for all of life’s moments like taking those first steps, learning to ride a bicycle, completing the science project the night before it is due, grilling out on the patio, walking a daughter down the aisle or as the best man standing by a son awaiting his bride, and all those times in between as an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. Roy Jennings was a dad we all would have been blessed to have known.
A Solid Foundation
Roy and Teresa Jennings were married for 43 and a half years and built a beautiful life together. They recognized the importance of building their family on a solid foundation so shortly after their first child was born, they joined a local church. This was the beginning of their faith journey and one they would pass on to their daughter, Kelley and two sons, Dustin and Miles. Over the years, their three children would learn many valuable lessons that would stay with them for a lifetime. Kelley, Dustin and Miles recently shared these lessons with family and friends who gathered for Roy’s celebration of life.
Setting a Godly Example
As Kelley looked back over life with her dad, she remembered many things she inherited from him, including her love for sweets and all kinds of music, but one memory was especially cherished. “Dad would walk up behind mom as she was in the kitchen cooking or doing the dishes and just start to dance with her. As a child, I thought of my parents as the King and Queen of our castle dancing at a royal ball. I knew that one day I wanted a husband just like my dad, who would show love without hesitation and dance with me in our kitchen. I’m blessed to say I found that and so much more in my husband, Clayton,” said Kelley. Through that simple show of affection towards her mom, Roy gave Kelley just a glimpse of what it meant to love and be loved by your spouse. He also taught her to love the life God has given us and show that love to others through our actions.
Life Comes Full Circle
Dustin recalled when he had his first loose tooth, and he went to his dad for help. “I was a scared little boy, and my dad took me outside to his truck, opened the toolbox he carried and pulled out a pair of needle nose pliers to pull my tooth. Dad assured me there was nothing to fear and one day I would be able to do this all by myself. Flash forward some 30 years when my son was about to lose his first tooth and dad was right, I did do it all by myself with my son. My dad taught himself to do a lot of things; if something was broken, he’d figure out how to fix it. He would say, ‘No matter how difficult the task, how little you know about a subject, or how many people cut you down, you can adapt, overcome, and trust the brain and two hands that God gave you and just try. You might be surprised at how much you can do all by yourself.’ Roy fully supported all of his children’s interests and he would often learn alongside them. Dustin eventually found an interest in computers, just like his dad. While he didn’t always want to see it when people would say that he was just like his dad, as an adult, Dustin proudly admits, “I am just like my dad.”
Leave Things Better Than You Found Them
Miles shared his lessons from his dad through a math book and a chainsaw. “It all started with long division. I just could not understand why I needed it, or how to do it. Dad sat down to help me one night and the first thing he asked was, ‘Where’s your math book?’ He told me to find the book and he would help me understand long division. He taught me to always look for ‘the book’ or the manual because someone has probably done what you’re trying to do, and the answer is already out there.” Miles also recalled that, “One day my dad borrowed a chainsaw from a friend so we could cut down some trees. We soon found the chainsaw needed oil and chain lube. Dad and I went to the store and got what the chainsaw needed and worked on the chainsaw several hours before we even started using it. He believed if there was a job to be done, it needed to be done right and no matter what, things should always be left better than when you found them. Of all the things dad did in his life, there’s no doubt he left this world better than he found it.”
Leaving a Legacy
Roy continually set the example of a hardworking, sacrificially loving husband and dad for his family. Kelley shared one more story to beautifully illustrate how Roy took care of his family.
“One day after a chemo treatment, mom was driving dad and he was especially tired and ready to be home. In mom’s haste to get him home, she took what dad would later call ‘the $500 shortcut,’ down a narrow street with trash bins sitting close to the road. Mom hit one and it knocked off her side mirror. Dad, who never minded a good project and could always find a ‘how-to’ video if needed, bought a new mirror, painted it, and installed it on the car all with his chemo pack on his shoulder and a feeding tube in his side. He worked hard to the very end.”
Roy made a point to take an interest in everyone he met. He wanted to know their names and make them feel valued and loved not only by him, but even more so by their Creator God. There were a few times over the last few days of his life that he said he didn’t want to leave all these beautiful people – not only his family and friends, but also his doctors and nurses, who he often referred to as “remarkable.” He felt so blessed and yet so undeserving of the love shown to him. His family assured him of what he already knew – that as much as they wanted him to stay, the eternity waiting for him was more beautiful than any of us could ever imagine.
The legacy Roy Jennings left behind is one his children pray they will be able to pass down for generations to come: a strong faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, life lessons to carry them through anything that comes their way, and a world much better for him being in it.
Jennings Family Fun Fact
Several years ago, Kelley realized that every 10 years, a girl had been born into the family. Teresa and both of her brothers had one daughter each. So, when Kelley announced she was expecting a baby in the spring of 2010, Roy predicted the baby would be a girl and, sure enough, that April, Roy got his first granddaughter. Kelley had a second daughter a couple of years later but as they inched closer to 2020 and Dustin’s wife found out she was expecting, Roy made another prediction, and he got a third granddaughter in May of 2020!
Affectionately known as the Fab 5, they now have Kelley (1980), Brooke (1990), Alexandra (2000), Emma (2010), and Camden (2020).