by Carter Dewitt
Roy H. Park Jr.’s compelling book into his life, his relationship with his entrepreneur father and the process by which the family business was built, is an insightful study into individual and family values.
His book, “Sons in the Shadow: Surviving the Family Business as an Sob — Son of the Boss,” describes hard work, compassion, dedication, frustration, conflict and loyalty, interspersed with that spark of creative genius that separates the most successful of entrepreneurs from the flock.
Roy Jr.’s father, Roy H. Park, was a North Carolina icon and a Forbes 400 entrepreneur. He was the driving force behind the Duncan Hines brand and the founder of Park Communications, a newspaper, media, and outdoor billboards company. Roy Jr. is truly the best of his father and mother — what every parent hopes their children will be.
The book comes highly recommended by author P.J. O’Rourke, former Pennsylvania congressman Charlie Dent, and the dean of the School of Media and Journalism at UNC, Susan King.
In the author’s own words, he “wrote the book because I believe in an America where anyone from any background willing to work hard can make it, even during the toughest of times. I wrote it to show why strong people within a family don’t often get along, but despite the strife of working in a family business, it teaches you what to do and not to do when you run a business of your own. Finally, I wrote it despite the pain and battles fought to validate that old truism ‘honor thy father,’ and because I like hard-earned happy endings.”
Two recurring attributes make this book a must-buy. The first is the creative prose of the author. Roy Jr. writes beautifully, and with this talent, he describes the uniquely difficult but valued relationship with his father. I was hooked on the very first page by Roy Jr.’s explanation on why he wanted to write this book.
He said, “But now in my later years, I feel the concrete of my past beginning to pave over me, and there’s much to remember.”
I fell in love with the thought of a Roy Jr. in my life after reading the beautiful untitled poem he wrote to his wife, Tetlow. Here is a small excerpt of that:
A wife, my darling is something a man may seem to take for granted.
Like the sun, the stars, the currents of the wind.
Love may not be expressed obviously or often,
For something so much a part of a man’s life.
But cold is the day without the sun.
How bleak the night sky without its diamonds of light…
The book displays incredible pictures the author has included among the pages of sharp prose. There are photos of college life, family, pets, business ventures and business meetings. The reader is invited in as if as a good friend. And, as someone who rescues dogs with significant emotional or physical disabilities, I enjoyed the author openly discussing his and his wife’s love of many breeds in Appendix I, “Dog Story.”
Roy Jr. may have started off in the shadow of a father large than life, but he’s been in full sun for many decades now. This is truly a great American story.
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Carter Dewitt is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.