Sunday Post 65: Launching Your Legacy

Posted by Danny

Last week I spoke at the Jr. League of Raleigh’s monthly meeting.  Me and 300 women – a dream come true.

Their theme this year is Launch Your Legacy.  This is an excerpt from what I shared with them:

Two years ago, I didn’t think much about legacy.  I mean, I knew what it meant to leave a legacy – but I was more concerned about how much money I was making, weather NC State made it to the NCAA Tournament, or if there was beer in the fridge; you know, important stuff like that.

And then, on February 24, 2010, my wife, Lisa, died. 

It was a short illness – we found out she had colon cancer Labor Day weekend, 2009.  We were going to be strong, we were going to fight it.  I fully believed that we would be the poster child of the family who would kick stage 4 cancer’s butt.  In fact, the night she died, I still had hope – that she would begin breathing on her own – a miraculous, wonderful story.  That would be her legacy – a strong woman who conquered cancer.  We would write a book and go on Oprah –

But I was wrong.  That was not her legacy.

On the day of her funeral, as I walked with my three daughters to the service, there were people lined up in the hallway.  They were being escorted to rooms further back in the church because there wasn’t any more room to sit in the sanctuary.  More than 1,300 people attended Lisa’s Memorial.

I’m sure some may have come out of curiosity or because she died at the age of 39.  But as I listened to those who shared thoughts about her that day, and as I looked around at the faces in the crowd, it dawned on me:  most of these people are here because Lisa made a difference in this world. 

She left a huge legacy, one I’m so very proud of.

I then shared how Lisa had made her mark on our church, the school where she worked, the Jr. League, and most of all my kids.

Sometimes I wonder if my legacy will be the guy who complained about what wasn’t right with life.  Or maybe the guy who agreed to do everything and then complained when he had to follow through.  Perhaps my legacy will be passing on my ability to worry over stuff I have absolutely no control over.  Wouldn’t those be memorable?

Nah – Lisa’s example has me working hard.  I want to be sure that when I die someone out there says, “That Danny Tanner, he made a difference in this world.  He made a difference to me.”

I have some strategies and ideas – starting with my girls.  But some of my dreams of what I could do are grand!  Maybe one day I’ll get there.  Or maybe I’ll leave my legacy on the journey and not even fully know it.

Leave a comment


  1. Great information, thank you Danny. My name is Penny and I just began to blog, it would be such an honor if you would take some time to check out my blogs, constructive criticism is always welcome, and it’s nice to have friends you have things in common with. I love history, on my blog I created the first online African America encyclopedia which is filled with rich history and many colorful, bright, genious, artists, scientists from the African American heritage. Please check me out, I’d be so happy. kindly penny

  2. Aunt Susan

     /  April 1, 2012

    Your legacy is what you are doing now. This blog is reaching people that you will never know and never know how it affected them or helped them heal. We all have legacies and just don’t realize it. You are also setting up and strengthing your legacy in how you raise and deal with all the people in your house.
    You are a good person, who is dealing with a really tough time, we are here to help, all you have to do is ask.

  3. Cynthia

     /  April 1, 2012

    Ditto Aunt Susan’s comment! Your blog makes me more aware of being grateful, being compassionate and finding the good in each day.

  4. I’ve only been following you for a few days and its made a huge impact on me. I’m a new mom and I’m often feeling overwhelmed. Reading what you write helps me learn to take a second and reflect on the good, rather than all the stress thats surrounding me.

    Thank you for that 🙂 You make me a better mom.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  April 1, 2012

      That’s a good thing! And I remember those days. Might blog about them – thanks for reminding me!

  5. LB

     /  April 1, 2012

    Lisa did make an impact on many people. Whenever I would see her at the church, she would always make you feel better with a little conversation even on my worst days. And you have made an impact in my life with your blog. I started reading it to see how you all were doing, but I continue to read it because of the many messages (both practical and spiritual) it sends out and that speak to my heart. Blessings and prayers always to you and your family.

  6. Your legacy isn’t just here on your blog. It will also be in your girls, in how they live their lives, how they remember their Dad, what they pass on to their families.Every day you add a piece to it. You have done well and I am sure you will continue to do so!

  7. Paige T.

     /  May 24, 2012

    Dear Danny,
    Since I was the fool crying in the back of the room as you spoke at the GMM, I can validate a couple of things. Yes, Lisa left a wonderful legacy. For friends, for strangers, for neighbors, for close relatives, for church folks, for employers, and more importantly, for her family. It is so evident in each of you and that night I was reminded of the blessings of knowing such a fine person. The sweet smiles of Lucy Powell and Annie T. The courageous face of Mrs. Permar, and of course…you. The other thing I can say for sure is you have left a legacy or a really strong impression on me. First, it was all the crazy stories that Lisa told about you and the kids or stuff with the Cary Y. Then it was working with you first hand. Not to blow smoke or anything, but I wish I had taken your advice more earnestly. As you preached balance and “get a life”, I look at Ava Mae now and realize what you were talking about. The last thing I can attest to is your example of a loving father to the girls. Some days when I read your blog, I think you are doing a better job at this parenting thing than me. At least you have a great sense of humor and that counts for alot. As I pulled away from carpool the other day and Grace was walking away, I rolled the window down and blarred the music and a shout out. Grace was mortified, but as you know, that’s the joy we can live with. Part of a legacy in my opinion is unknown. You really don’t know how you effect others until your gone; however, in your case I hope you know you and your family are ever present in my life. Peace!

    • Danny Tanner

       /  May 26, 2012

      You offer more than I deserve. But I thank you!


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