Lessons From My Father: Part 3

Marisa Wayne with her father John Wayne.

Marisa Wayne with her father John Wayne.

Co-owner of boutique studio GritCycle, Marisa Wayne reflects on what her father knew best.

As told to Jenn Thornton

For John Wayne’s daughter Marisa Wayne, Father’s Day has special meaning. “It means I miss him very much. Every day was Father’s Day with him,” she says, citing her dad’s devotion to his family, country and work as positively affecting her life. “He told Dean Martin he wanted me to respect all who wear a uniform, believe in the Lord’s Prayer, and live by the Golden Rule. I think he’d be proud of the influence he continues to have on all future generations.” For millions, the Duke represented the ultimate toughness, but Marisa remembers his softer side: “He had a rule that I wasn’t allowed to walk past him without giving him a hug and kiss.” In the third installment of our Father’s Day series, Marisa elaborates on her father’s many formative examples.

ACHIEVE SUCCESS, ACCEPT FAILURE Few people ever attain success at a level that John Wayne achieved. Marisa credits this to a kind of creed: “Be gracious—win or lose—and always get back in the saddle! Do your best and don’t settle for less than you deserve.” Drawing inspiration from her father’s work ethic, she says that he taught her to “Take pride in what you do no matter what. Show up early and well prepared. Can’t say I’ve nailed it 100 percent, but I’m getting better!”

BE HUMBLE In his heyday, no one was bigger than John Wayne. His presence on-screen and off was monumental, making him seem untouchable. But Marisa remembers her father never failing to recognize others. He made everyone feel special. He really paid attention to details.” 

Marisa and her father fishing on the Pacific Northwest during one of their many family trips aboard  Wild Goose .

Marisa and her father fishing on the Pacific Northwest during one of their many family trips aboard Wild Goose.

CHERISH THE LITTLE THINGS “I love the times we spent on board the Wild Goose,” says Marisa. “There were few distractions back then, no cell phones, email, satellite TV. We really got to connect whether by simple conversation or playing games. It was a magical time.”

DEAL WITH IT The roles John Wayne played were not shy when a situation called them to act. Marisa says there was a bit of her father in all the characters he portrayed, but likens him most to Sean Thornton from The Quiet Man. “My dad, although an actor, liked to avoid drama and conflict,” she says, “but when faced with an uncomfortable situation, he would deal with it head on and with integrity. He was loyal, charming, funny, witty and a tremendous father on all levels.”

SERVICE OVER SELF The measure of a man is how he treats other people when no one else is looking. Marisa defines her father as “always polite and respectful unless pushed,” she says. “He was courteous with his time and genuinely listened. He answered every piece of fan mail personally, and took time to make people feel special.” He lived what he believed: “Treat all people with respect, love God, your family and your country. Appreciate all men and women who work hard and sacrifice to make our country the best in the world.”

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