Ellenburg honored as Father of the Year
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Even though Gerald Ellenburg said his children were great kids and have grown to be exceptional adults, he's a little modest about taking any credit for their upbringing-even after a group of his peers named him the best dad around.
The Morgan County Cattlewomen's Association will award Ellenburg the 2004 Father of the Year Award at its June 4 banquet.
Ellenburg and his wife Christine have been married for 41 1/2 years and have two children-Raimey Ellenburg and Rhnea Ellenburg Mahaney.
Raimey, 35, his wife Charlotte, and their son Owen, 15 months, live in the Five Points area. Rhnea, 33, her husband Jeff, and their son Mason, 5, live in Douglasville, Ga.
Ellenburg said his children and grandchildren will accompany him to the banquet, which happens to fall on the eve of his 62nd birthday.
"I am thankful for being a father and was blessed with two great kids. They were no trouble and were always good kids, except that one time Raimey got caught rolling a yard," Ellenburg reminisced while sporting a wide grin.
Ellenburg said he and Christine raised their children at their home in Liberty, a 20-acre plot of rolling pasture and wooded trails.
"They grew up in these woods and pasture," Ellenburg recalled. "They were always riding their bikes up and down the trails. The kids were raised around the cattle, too. I think it gave both of them a caring attitude toward animals and people."
Ellenburg retired Aug. 31, 2000, from the Alabama Department of Transportation as an assistant maintenance engineer where he worked for 39 1/2 years-the only job he ever held.
He became a cattle farmer 25 years ago and served as the 1992 Morgan County Cattlemen's Association president.
"My father was a row crop farmer and he sold the farm when I was about 10," Ellenburg explained. "I had always loved animals and decided I wanted to have a cattle farm. Most of it is fun, except for the long nights when there are problems delivering a calf. You have to enjoy it to do it for so long, though."
Since his retirement, Ellenburg said he enjoys strolling with his youngest grandson down to see the cattle and riding his oldest grandson on the tractor.
"It's true what they say about grandchildren," Ellenburg said. "You can spoil 'em and send 'em home."
He and Christine enjoy attending car shows in Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky and Mississippi, and local cruise-ins on Saturday nights. Trophies line their bookcase from awards he has won for his 1937 Chevy show car.
"I also have a 1979 Camero I bought new," Ellenburg explained. "It still runs, but needs some work. These days, I'd rather drive cars than work on them."
Ellenburg said the Father of the Year award is the first such honor he has received.
"I was really surprised when they told me I was nominated," Ellenburg admitted. "I always thought an award like this was something an older person should receive. So, I guess it's nice to get older."