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Father of the Year: ‘I wouldn’t trade a one of them for anything’

Features Editor

Tommy Spivey grew up in a family of six kids. His parents had to struggle to make ends meet. He didn’t want to have those struggles when he became a father, so he only has five children.

Spivey, laughingly, said the five kids were his wife’s idea.

"Kathy wanted five kids and I wanted one," he said. "But, I wouldn’t trade a one of them for anything. They are all so precious to us."

Spivey was named the Pike County Cattlewomen’s 2002 Father of the Year and the recognition caught him completely by surprise.

"I never expected anything like that," he said of the award. "But, it means a whole lot to me. To think that 30 people, that I respect so much, would think of me, well, it just means a lot and I really appreciate it."

Spivey is a poultry farmer with the instincts of a mother hen when it comes to his little brood. When the sun goes down, he wants them all nestled safely at home.

"I love being at home and being with my family," he said. "When I come in at night, they are on top of me, hugging and kissing and yelling. They light up my life."

That Spivey is in his comfort zone on a farm with five children is a bit surprising, even to him.

"I grew up in Troy, not far from the college," he said. "I didn’t know the first thing about farming and I didn’t expect to have a large family."

So, nothing has turned out the way Spivey expected. It’s turned out much better.

The city boy’s a farm boy and, not only does he have five children of his own, he is also plays papa to a bus load of children every day.

As a school bus driver for the county schools, Spivey has an opportunity to be involved in the lives of many young people, if only for a short time each day during the school term.

One never knows how what they say or do might impress a young person, so Spivey wants to make sure, his impression on young people is a positive one.

He and his family are actively involved in their church, Good Hope Baptist Church. The church is a big part of their social life as well as their spiritual life.

"Our church has an organized witness program and we are part of that," Spivey said. "I am pleased to be a founding member of this group and have seen many people become Christians through this outreach program."

With church, family and farm, Spivey said there is little time for other activities.

"Kathy is active with the Pike County Cattlewomen and I’m a member of the Cattlemen’s Association," he said. "We have a herd of cattle and so we’re very interested in and supportive of both these organizations. The members are friends and we enjoy being with them."

Spending time with his family is a top priority for Spivey. Although farm life leaves little time for vacations, the family did take their first in 10 years last summer.

"We went to Tennessee and we all had a great time," he said. "The children liked hiking the trails and that kind of thing. We didn’t do shopping and rides. That’s not why we went. We just wanted some time together away from work."

As the father of five, Spivey said he has concerns about the things to which children are exposed and the leniency which they are granted.

"Too many children don’t know how to accept responsibility and they put too much emphasis on material things," he said. "We don’t spend a lot of money, and we try to make our children understand the things that are really important."

Spivey takes his responsibility as a role model for his children and for others very seriously. He has positive role models and one of them got him headed in the direction of country life.

"Harold Lee gave me a chance to work on his farm and then gave me a chance to work his farm," he said. "If he hadn’t, I probably would never have had a farm of my on and my children wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow up on a farm. I’m from the city and it’s a great place to live, but I hope I can always live in the country."