With Father’s Day coming June 16, two local leaders – Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell and Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul – reflected on the big day in interviews with the Neighbor.
Massell, a former Atlanta mayor, is also known as Buckhead’s unofficial mayor in his capacity as the leader of the coalition, an invitation-only, chamber-like organization of 100 CEOs that promote the community.
He has three adult children, Cindy, Steve and Melanie, and three grandchildren. Massell, who was married to his first wife Doris for 62 years before her death in 2015, will celebrate three years of marriage with his second wife Sandra in September.
Paul and his wife Jan have five adult children, Katie, Russ, Lauren, Emily and Andrew, and four grandsons.
When asked what Father’s Day means, the two leaders said it represents different things to them.
“Father’s Day signals us to renew our prayers of appreciation for the one who brought us into being,” Massell said of his dad, Sam Sr. “It is no accident that we reflect the positive traits in contributions to brotherhood he would want as a legacy.
“It wasn’t until I matured to college age that I came to realize he was planting seeds as he guided my respect for fatherhood. He didn’t need to tell me the difference between right and wrong, he showed me by his style of life. I still smile when I see a performance of mine actually as a reflection of his ‘teachings.’ I have been so very, very lucky.”
Said Paul, “For me it’s the kids getting together and being together as much as possible. This year Andrew and Katie won’t be there because they live on the East Coast and the West Coast and they’re coming in less than two weeks later for Emily’s wedding. So it will be a reduced (group).
“My birthday falls there, too (June 23), so they kind of combine the two. For me it’s important to enjoy being a father because my kids will be around. In today’s world, it’s tough to get everyone together. The highlight for me is not a new tie or pair of socks, but to get the kids together. The happiest time for me is to see my five kids together. They’re all very successful in their own right. To see them interact as adults, it’s a moment of joy and fun for me.”
In October Paul was one of three men to receive the Atlanta Father of the Year Award in October from the American Diabetes Association’s Georgia chapter, and the awards ceremony included a video in which his children talked about their dad.
“Those things are very moving and emotional, and Jan and I talked many times about how fortunate we are with five children,” he said. “… They’re all great people and all very successful. Father’s Day has become rarer and rarer to get together. It’s not about me per se but more about the family being able to celebrate our relationships.”
While Paul said he might spend the day having brunch with his family, Massell said he may have a more low-key day.
“I’ll spend it with my wife as I do with all celebrations and other days as well,” he said. “That’s my life now. It’s laughter and smiles and everything except dancing because I have a bad back. We live life to the fullest.
“I can’t say enough about having a father in your life. He definitely served the purpose of giving me guidance in all directions and all arenas.”