In Huntsville, AL, when my daughter was in elementary school, the wife of the principal of the Christian school Sherri attended thrust a wad of papers into my hands one day and said: "Here, you need to read these." I responded with a 'yes ma'am' and took them home.
After reading them, I decided it was the dumbest thing I had ever read. It was about something called the "Equal Rights Amendment". What I soon discovered was that it wasn't about 'equal rights for women' at all, but it was about attempting to constitute a unisex society. Something entirely different!!
That initial experience opened the door to a world that I didn't even know existed!! Growing up, politics was never a topic of conversation at my home, I don't even know if my mother and daddy were registered to vote.
Before I knew it, I was starting the Huntsville Eagle Forum chapter under the expert leadership of Alabama Eagle Forum and Eunie Smith and others.
While still in Huntsville, I clearly remember calling the 'Eagle Forum office' to get some information. I was momentarily taken-a-back, when I heard on the other end of the line, that easily identifiable voice saying 'hello'. I had no idea that Eagle Forum was run out of Phyllis' home in Alton.
In 1979, I moved to Lexington, KY, where Phyllis Green (the KY leader) and Phyllis Schlafly trusted me to establish an Eagle Forum chapter in Lexington. During the last three years in KY I had the opportunity to serve as a Legislative Aide in the KY General Assembly, which (known to God, but totally unknown to me) was preparing me to come to TN. Must add here that Tottie Ellis took credit for 'praying me to TN' so that I could take over TN Eagle Forum!!
Once again, Phyllis was totally supportive and a constant source of encouragement. Now, this is a very important point to contemplate and one that deserves attention.
After all these years, I still find it really remarkable that Phyllis places as much trust in her leaders as she does. To say that, especially in the early days, I had no idea what I was doing, is a real understatement. And, yet, Phyllis did no 'micro-management' as I still see done in other national organizations with state chapters. That level trust is great motivation to do everything 'well' and 'as unto the Lord', just as she does.
I have frequently referred to Phyllis as the 'Esther of our time' ("for such a time as this"), as I am firmly convinced that she IS personally responsible for so many 'conservative' victories that have been accomplished in this country in the past 40 years, starting with the "they said it couldn't be done" defeat of the proposed ERA, to the wonderful Republican Platform language, and so many other important issues in between.
Phyllis has always been a role model of grace, beauty, dignity (even when getting hit in the face with a pie), integrity, strength, persistence, and total commitment. What I have NEVER seen is evidence of anything being driven by ego or pride.
Phyllis has been blessed by God with so many gifts - extraordinary wife and mother, brilliant mind, writing and speaking ability, research skills, administrative ability, organizational skills, etc. All these years, she has been willing to use all those gifts in total, selfless, service to God, her family and our nation.
She is the epitome of devotion to Faith, Family and Country. She gets up everyday to do 'the next right thing'; she is definitely a Proverbs 31 woman!!
So...how has Phyllis changed my life? Her writings came to me at a time when I was totally outside the world of politics and, over time, brought me to a life of total immersion (some would say obsession!!) in the world of public policy and political activism. I am very grateful as it seems to me that she really helped me to find my niche in life,
With much love and GREAT admiration,
Bobbie Patray, President of Tennessee Eagle Forum
Thanks so much for your call – I was very touched. You know, of course, that you changed the entire direction of my life and all for the better, I think.
You have been such a wonderful role model and encourager to me. As a part of Eagle Forum, I have done things I would have never believed I could do – thank you for your confidence in me.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation for the financial support you have provided since Ron had his stroke. I don’t know what we would have done without it!
I love you and am very grateful for everything.