Since 1988, our mission at Welch Hornsby has been unwavering. Provide uncompromising commitment to build and preserve the wealth of individuals, families, and institutions. It’s more than our philosophy. It’s our life. We are bound by the belief that the most significant investment we can make is the investment in a life of uncompromising commitment. Throughout history, many men and women have made that belief their guiding principle. Their mantra. They voiced opposition when the majority was wrong. They stayed later, worked harder, and ran faster. They imposed self-discipline, tapped into deeper energies, and ignored all distractions until they reached their goals. They saw what was right, pointed their feet in that direction, and walked. Some earned universal fame and recognition for their contributions. Some slipped beneath the public’s gaze. All showed what happens when one commits without compromise. Those men and women inspire us. This website chronicles their stories.
At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Wilma Rudolph became “the fastest woman in the world.” A twenty-year-old, African-American woman from Clarksville, Tennessee, gained the attention and admiration of the world as she swept the 100- and 200-meter Olympic races and anchored the gold-medal-winning 4×100-meter relay team. She broke world records, she outran her competition, and she became the first American woman to win three gold medals at the Olympics. But, to see Rudolph in all her success, one would never know that the obstacles she overcame on her way to the podium made her accomplishments even more inspirational.
Born to a poor family in a small town in Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph was the 20th of 22 siblings, and was born prematurely at only four-and-a-half pounds. From birth, Rudolph battled constant health problems alongside her loving and supportive family. She suffered from double pneumonia, measles, scarlet fever, and the polio virus, which left her with very limited use of her left leg.
“My doctor told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother,” said Rudolph.
She was fitted with a metal leg brace, and her mother drove her each week, for two years, nearly 100 miles round trip to a hospital in Nashville until she was able to walk without braces. She was brave and persistent in her therapy, and her family assisted with her at-home exercises to increase the function of her leg. By age twelve, Rudolph had regained all ability and function in her legs, and a new chapter of her life began.
Rudolph’s healing process fostered her strong will and determination, and once she was able, she followed in her siblings’ footsteps and pursued basketball. She was a highly regarded athlete on her high school team, and Ed Temple, track and field coach at Tennessee State recruited her to practice with his track team.
By the time Rudolph had turned sixteen, only four years after fully recovering from a condition which could have left her wheelchair-bound, she had earned a spot on the US Olympic team for the 1956 Olympics, where she won a bronze medal. Once she returned home, her training continued, and she developed into a world-class, record-setting athlete—in spite of, or perhaps because of, the struggles she overcame in her early life.
Wilma Rudolph’s drive to succeed, along with the support of her family, propelled her from being a paralyzed, young girl to become the fastest woman the world had ever seen. Her successes inspired women worldwide, drawing unprecedented attention to women’s athletics, particularly track and field. Men and women, black and white, athlete or not—people looked to Rudolph and were inspired by her accomplishments and her unwavering belief that “the reward is not so great without the struggle.”
When Rudolph returned to her hometown after the 1960 Olympics, her homecoming parade and banquet were, by her request, the first integrated events in the town. Rudolph earned a full scholarship to Tennessee State University and after retiring from track and field, she completed her college degree and continued to inspire others through her work as a teacher, a coach, and a civil rights activist. She was inducted into the Black Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983. Named as one of the greatest sports figures of the 20th century, today the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award is presented to a female athlete who exhibits extraordinary courage in her athletic performance, demonstrates the ability to overcome adversity, makes significant contributions to sports and serves as an inspiration and role model to those who face challenges, overcomes them, and strives for success at all levels.
Rudolph received accolades and honors for her great accomplishments, but it was her fight against adversity that was the truest testament to her character. Her life was marked by overcoming the seemingly impossible. When others might have given up, she never underestimated the potential for greatness within her, and she reached her goals with a gracious attitude and persistent positivity.
Hers was truly an investment in a life of uncompromising commitment.
Dr. Temple Grandin did not speak until she was four years old. She was labeled as “brain damaged” as a child. As an adolescent, she was called “nerdy,” “weird,” or “tape recorder,” as she often repeated herself. Her conversational and social skills did not fit the norm, but for Temple Grandin, her separation from societal strictures is exactly what allowed her to become the successful and empathetic academician, autism advocate, and prodigious animal scientist she is today.
Dr. Grandin’s diagnosis with autism at age two did not doom her to a life of unproductivity. Neither she nor her parents believed that her differences were enough to make her “lesser,” and with the help of her family and dedicated mentors, Temple Grandin defied the odds. She earned a degree in psychology from Franklin Pierce College, a master’s degree in animal science from Arizona State University, and a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois. Her academic achievements alone speak volumes against the diagnosis, which many assumed would sentence her to an unaccomplished life. But her actions and the way she has utilized her unique ways of thinking and understanding are evidence of remarkable perseverance and persistence.
Dr. Grandin realized early on that the way her brain works is special—she “thinks in pictures” and understands the surrounding world in a different way than her peers. She was ostracized and teased by her peers as a young girl. The innate challenges of adolescence were amplified because of her autism, but the power of hurtful words was not strong enough to deter Temple Grandin. She set her focus on her studies; she honed in on her skills and refined her talents, all the while working to understand and modify the characteristics of her autism. And although she worked to normalize socially, it was her sensitivity to the generally unnoticed that gave her an articulate empathy and helped her to explain to the world the unusual and complex behavior of people living with autism.
Because of her own triumphs in spite of personal challenges, she continues to encourage children with autism and their parents to allow these children to succeed—to push them to reach their full potential, even though the path may not seem “normal” to many. Her long-standing advocacy in the autistic community has given voice to those who cannot express themselves easily.
Alongside her autism advocacy, Dr. Grandin is a leading voice in animal treatment—particularly in the arena of large-scale livestock facilities. She has invented farm equipment for humane handling of livestock, created out of her understanding of how animals think, behave, and react to stimuli. She is able to “think like a cow,” she says, and has served as a valuable consultant for major international corporations dealing with animals. She now serves as a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University, teaching students to see from her point of view and to better understand the world around them by examining it through a different lens.
Dr. Temple Grandin is autistic. But that label is not a negative defining point for her life. She is an author, a lecturer, a professor, a scientist, an activist, a humanitarian, and a brilliant thinker. She is cited in journals and books and is the subject of a Grammy award-winning film. She is different, and she always has been. But she did not allow her differences to isolate her. She utilized them to enhance the lives of others.
Hers is truly an investment in a life of uncompromising commitment.
Will Rogers was a man of the people. Part Cherokee, he was born and raised in Oologah, Indian Territory (in what is now Oklahoma). He grew up calling both Native Americans and settlers his family and friends. He was a cowboy and frontiersman, a record-holding lasso thrower, a vaudeville star, a Broadway hit, a beloved movie star, a newspaper columnist, a best-selling author, a friend of the presidents, a political commentator, an avid aviation enthusiast, and a real, honest epitome of the great and patriotic American.
Growing up on his family’s ranch, Rogers’ wild spirit pulled him in and out of formal school as he pursued the cowboy life. He became a technical lasso thrower, traveling to perform with successful Wild West shows, and even earned a Guinness World Record for throwing three ropes simultaneously. His unfinished schooling did not mean his intellect was lacking, though, and when he took his show to vaudeville, it was his quick wit, warm charm, and sharp intellect that won over audiences as he spoke of simple, slower, moral life.
It wasn’t long until his charming personality and bright mind took him to Broadway, where he continued to give social commentary through his likable “country bumpkin” persona. But, this persona didn’t fool folks for long; Rogers was clearly no “bumpkin,” but instead, a thoughtful, intelligent, and kind spirit, and he found major success on the big screen as such.
From silent movies to “talkies,” America loved Will Rogers films. His appeal had spread from one stage to another and then on to the big screen. While he gained great favor through his acting career, Rogers also found acclaim through his writing. As the writer of a regular column for the Saturday Evening Post in the 1910s and 1920s, Rogers reached Americans where they were with sentiments that could have been their own. The things he had echoed his whole career—in various forms and mediums—he wrote about in his columns: insights about current events, his distrust of politics, his feelings that money wasn’t all that mattered, and his longing for a slower, more moral American life. He noted that day-to-day life was much more important to the human spirit and the spirit of the nation than were politics or money or fads. His all-in-good-fun-honesty brought a knowing unity among Americans.
Will Rogers had come a long way. He had written several best-selling books, served as a good will ambassador, befriended presidents, and charmed a nation. And though he had found great success, he was quite grounded in his beliefs throughout his life, and he never forgot the spirit of his foundation.
Will Rogers died pursuing his cowboy-like frontier adventure, as his plane crashed on an excursion to Alaska. Some would say he was the last of those American heroes looking to a simpler life; the nation would soon turn their eyes to the future while the world was rocked by the war.
He was, arguably, the most beloved man in America during his lifetime. His life was marked by patriotism, intelligence, skill, wit, integrity, and conviction, and he struck a chord of deep American sentimentality with his fans.
His was an investment in a life of uncompromising commitment.