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S.Truett Cathy holds local book signing

By Todd DeFeo

Teresa Poole stood in line, leafing through the pages of a book she was holding.

Several others ahead of her likewise flipped through books, while some made casual conversation. All, however, had a commonality n S. Truett Cathy wrote the book they were holding and all were waiting for a chance to meet him.

"His ethics is what I admire," Poole said as she waited for Cathy to arrive at a book signing Saturday in Morrow.

The Ellenwood resident first became familiar with Chick-fil-A, the restaurant Cathy founded in 1967, as a teenager in South Carolina; her sister worked there. Like Cathy, Poole is a foster parent, as were many of the people who turned out Saturday.

"I really appreciate that he is a Christian, his business is closed on Sunday and he gives scholarships to his employees," Alisha Davenport, a foster parent from Covington, said of Cathy. "? I like to see people working for God in the secular world."

Before long, Cathy walked into the Morrow Barnes & Noble and the dozen or so people waiting in line to meet him turned and acknowledged his presence. "I've got a lot of people waiting for me," Cathy said with a smile.

Standing and facing the crowd, Cathy began to toss stuffed Chick-fil-A cows to the kids in line. Then, he sat down and grabbed a pen and started signing copies of his new book, "It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men."

"This book is written for fathers to realize the obligations they have to their families," Cathy said in an interview last week. "? The best gift you can give your children is having both a mother and father living together."

In the book, released this month, Cathy uses personal stories to illustrate how children react to problems at home. Many children who grow up in fatherless homes either run away, drop out of high school, end up in prison or start using drugs, Cathy says.

Through Chick-fil-A, Cathy founded the WinShape Centre Foundation in 1984, which offers 14 foster homes, a summer camp for children and college scholarships. He also takes the time to teach Sunday school to 13-year-old boys every week.

For children, however, there is no substitute to having both natural parents in the home and spending time together, Cathy contends.

"Sitting in front of a TV screen for two hours is not exactly what I call quality time," Cathy said. "TV is OK, but nevertheless if you don't have much time to spend with your children, you ought to spend quality time with them."

That is why Chick-fil-A is closed on Sunday, Cathy says.

"That's probably the best business decision I ever made," Cathy said. "I've been doing it for 57 years. It honors God by being closed Sunday and it permits families time to be together. It is a day that should be set aside as a very special day."

Those who turned out Saturday said they admired Cathy for his values. And because of those principles, they find themselves dining at Chick-fil-A more and buying his books.

"I believe in what he stands for," McDonough resident Shane Metcalf said. "No corporate business is easy, but he's done a good job keeping true to his word and company values."