Fathers pass on family legacy



It's a Southern tradition to name a son after his father, as seen by all the Juniors walking around. Men with the Roman numeral III after their name are less common; those with a IV or V, rarer still. For Father's Day, here are stories of fathers and sons who have kept the tradition, and the name, alive for generations.

Russell Edwin Blanchard

When it came time to name his son in 1973, Russell Edwin Blanchard Jr. and his wife barely discussed names.

Russell Edwin Blanchard III just seemed natural.

"When he was first born, he looked so much like my father, and we just never had any thought of anything else, and we never regretted it," said Edwin Jr.

When it was Russell III's turn to name his son, he didn't hesitate to continue the tradition.

"You know, we didn't really talk about it, either," he said. "I just started calling him No. 4. We didn't really kick around too many names at all, once we found out we were having a boy."

Russell IV, 2, goes by a variety of names right now, from Cuatro to No. 4 to Buddy to Russell, his dad said.

The older Blanchards share a love for their alma mater, the University of Georgia. Edwin and Russell III attend as many football games together as they can.

Russell Sr. and Edwin are pharmacists; Russell III went into the insurance business.

If there were ever any pressure to live up to the family name, it would have been on Edwin in pharmacy school. It wasn't much, though, and he didn't think he had any of the same teachers his father did.

People in town still come up to him from time to time and tell him how much his father meant to them when they were growing up.

"I don't think you feel any pressure if you just live like you think you should, and do what's right and love your family and tend to them," Edwin said.

He and Russell III said they haven't thought about how far they want the tradition to continue, though they hope Russell IV will pass it on.

"I guess that's all up to he and his wife," Russell III said.

Edwin said: "You always hope (he will), but that's up to him and his spouse."

Thomas Jefferson Horner

Thomas Jefferson Horner IV said it was just a given that he would name his son Thomas Jefferson Horner V.

"My father passed away in May of '98, so it just kind of felt like the right thing to do. Kind of keep the tradition going," he said.

Horner's wife, Becky, said she knew when they found out they were having a boy that he would be a "fifth." There was little discussion in the matter.

"A lot of people don't want juniors or (sons) named after them. I just always knew he did," she said.

The value of family to the Horners is evident in their home: Photos of earlier generations are scattered across one wall of the family room.

Two similar photos feature Tom, 44: One is of him holding his namesake in his lap at the beach, and the other is of him as a child sitting in his father's lap in the same pose.

He and his father, who went by Tommy, were close, working side by side for 10 years as real estate agents.

Through the years, they shared a love of the beach, golf and University of Georgia football.

"And Tommy is going along that same great path," Tom said.

With one exception.

"I don't like golf," said Tommy, 7.

Tom remembers his grandfather, T.J., as something of a character. In the 1930s, T.J. had come to Augusta with his brother, Jack, to operate the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co., which they did until they sold the company in 1970.

"Supposedly, the stories of downtown Augusta are legendary of T.J. and Jack, of all the 'fun' that they had," Horner said.

He never knew his great-grandfather, the first Thomas Jefferson Horner, who died in 1938.

Tom said it's up to Tommy as to whether he passes the family name to a sixth generation.

Tommy said he doesn't plan to get married and have children.

"If she has a boy, I'll name him Thomas Jefferson," he said, pointing at his 9-year-old sister, Maggie. "Girls are yuck."

Levi Walter Hill

Levi Walter Hill III, 82, wasn't fond of his first name.

Nobody could seem to get it right.

"You always tell somebody your name and they always say, 'What?' " he said. "I thought he (my son) might like something a little easier."

His grandfather was always called Walter, and his father went by Dub, a shortened version of the letter W.

"I got stuck with the real one," he said.

When his son was born 48 years ago, Levi III named him simply Lee Walter Hill.

Lee didn't want to be spared, though, and when he was 16, he legally changed his name to Levi Walter Hill IV.

"I liked the name Levi," he said. "I think it's a good name."

Levi IV said he considered letting the tradition end with his son, but his wife suggested continuing it.

Nineteen-year-old Levi V was surprised by that revelation.

"What were you going to name me?" he asked.

"I can't remember what we were going to name you," Levi IV said. Then he laughed. "We were going to name you Clark. Clark Hill."

Levi IV said he likes to think a sense of humor has been passed through the generations along with the name.

"We've always gotten along. Some sons don't get along with their father too well," he said. "(My father) and I have worked across the hall from each other for years and have always gotten along well, laugh a good bit together, so I'd like to think that's part of what we pass along."

The elder Hills still run Richmond Supply Co., which was started by Dub and a partner in 1942.

Levi V said that he plans to work at the company during the summer while he's out of school but that he's considering a career in the automotive industry.

The Hill legacy also includes the stately family home on Johns Road.

In 1950, Dub bought it to move the family from Sandersville, Ga., to be closer to the business. Now the house is Levi III's home.

Levi IV said that he's not sure his family will live there when it's time for the house to be passed down but that he hopes it will stay in the family.

As for whether the name will continue beyond a fifth generation, it's hard to say.

"I don't know if I'm going to have kids yet," Levi V said. "I couldn't tell you what I'm going to do in the future. I have no idea."

William Iverson Barksdale

It was never said in the Barksdale family that the patriarch's name must be passed down through the generations, but when William Iverson Barksdale IV had a son, he decided to keep the legacy going.

"It was something I could pass on to him that was special and also unique," he said. "There's not a lot of V's around."

Barksdale, 45, and his son, William Iverson Barksdale V, 12, both go by Will, but beyond the occasional "Big Will, Little Will," there's rarely a need for differentiation.

"Generally, when my wife's talking, we both know who she's talking to," Barksdale said.

When Barksdale IV was growing up, his father was called Bill, and his grandfather was Billy.

That didn't stop Barksdale from getting some of his father's mail if the numeral was missing, though.

The first patriarch to bear the full monicker was Barksdale's great-grandfather. He died before Barksdale was born. The family always called him Bamps because IV's father, William III, couldn't pronounce the word "gramps" as a child.

Barksdale was close to his grandfather, whom he called Papa.

He spent many weekends with his Papa after his parents divorced when he was 7.

"We stayed up and always watched the late-night horror shows. Shock Theater ," he said. "I was very scared. I'd crawl up in next to him because I'd get scared."

Barksdale said his father, who died last year, was his best friend.

He said he doesn't feel the need to live up to any reputation set forth by his predecessors; still, he feels that sharing the name with his son does lead him to be a bit more mindful that his actions reflect well on his son.

"I feel like I need to lead a good example for my son," he said. "I'm sure my father felt the same way, and so forth."

Barksdale said he doesn't have to use the Roman numeral on the end of his name, but he does most of the time. His father did, too.

His son, however, sees little need yet to add the V. Nevertheless, he does think it's pretty cool to be a fifth.

When he has a son, he'll name the boy William Iverson Barksdale VI.

"I want to keep the generations going," he said.



Sat, 02/24/2018 - 21:21

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