Dolly Parton, born 70 years ago today, is mostly thought of as a widely successful American singer-songwriter, which is true, but there is far more to her than just that.
She’s also an actress, businesswoman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, dedicated Wife, Doctor of Letters, Paul Harris Fellow and a Rotarian.
Dolly came from very humble beginnings in Tennessee where she was 1 of 12 children who’s family was so poor that it’s rumored her father had to pay for her birth with a bag of grain.
She is perhaps one of the most decorated musical talents in history with 25 certified Gold, Platinum or Multi-Platinum Records, 26 songs reaching No. 1 on the Billboard country charts, 42 career top-10 country albums and over 100 million recordings recording sold world-wide.
But don’t think for a moment that Dolly is a one-dimensional Gal…..as she’s never forgot her roots in poverty or the early struggles that her family endured as a result of her father being unable to read and write.
Dolly is a hands-on philanthropist who leverages her talents, her resources and her entrepreneurial skills to improve the lives of many others. A brief highlight of a seemingly endless list of Dolly’s good deeds include:
- Being a longtime supporter of charities, especially those relating to literacy.
- She established the Imagination Library in 1995, which sends one book per month to children from the time of their birth until they enter kindergarten. Many Rotary Clubs partner in this program.
- Giving $500,000 to Fort Sanders Medical Center to help launch a new Cancer Hospital
- Leading significant efforts to preserve the bald eagle through the American Eagle Foundation’s sanctuary at Dollywood.
- Giving out countless scholarships through her foundation.
She’s very aware of her public persona and isn’t above poking a little fun at herself.
When asked in a recent interview if she’s had work done, she replied “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap”.
Dolly received an honorary doctorate of humane and musical letters from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 2009, so she’s really Dr. Dolly – or Double D as she referred to herself to RIPE John Germ on the stage of the Rotary International Convention in Montreal in 2011. Dolly was a keynote speaker at that conference and closed it with a performance of 9 to 5.
At 70 years old Dolly is still an energetic beauty with an amazing voice that shows no signs of slowing down as she’s still a significant presence in the music industry, works actively on her foundation to make the world place and generously gives of her time and talents to her family.
Dolly epitomizes Service Above Self by giving of herself day in and day out, she is the ultimate model of what a Rotarian is all about.
Dolly is also Paul Harris fellow – presented by RIPE John Germ in Montreal and she’s a Rotarian – a member of the Cleethorpes (Grimsby, UK) Rotary Club.
I wish that the North Haven Rotary Club thought of inviting her first.