He is one of the best known and respected people in law enforcement in our state and retired as a major with the Department of Natural Resources. Since then he has received many honors, as he has remained active in organizations that promote and benefit law enforcement personnel.
Just as Bill advanced in his career in law enforcement, he helped others advance, too. One of those was Cherokee County Sheriff Roger Garrison. Sheriff Garrison grew up down the street. He has described "Major Cline" as being like a second father to him. Bill gave Roger his first job in law enforcement.
But the column is not about the buildings that have been named for William L. "Bill" Cline or any of the many other awards he has received.
This is Father's Day weekend, and this column is about Bill Cline, the father of his and Dorothy Nally Cline's children - Mike Cline, Vickie Russell and Jennifer Hughes. For their entire lives, he has been and continues to be an exemplary father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Bill and Dot were married in 1954 at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church at Pine Log.
Jennifer, the youngest of the children, explains her relationship with her parents in a few but poignant words. "They are my whole world. They have always been there to help me. I don't know what I would do without them."
While talking about what makes her dad so special, Vickie first mentioned his integrity. Then she added, "Everything about him makes him a good daddy. He is a wonderful, special person. He treats people well, never tells a lie and helps everyone." Then she added, "I was daddy's little girl. I still am."
She has always loved his size. "He was easy to find in a crowd. I have looked up to him all of my life."
Early in his career, Bill was what was called a game warden. People liked asking Vickie what her daddy did. Of course, they knew what she would say. She called him a "rabbit policeman."
Bill loves his family. Growing up, Mike, Vickie and Jennifer knew the abundance of love their parents had for them. They were taught the difference between right and wrong. As now, the family went to church together.
Mike also admires his dad's integrity. He described him as, "A man of his word. He means what he says. He does not beat around the bush."
One day, Bill had taken Mike to get a haircut. On the way home, Bill noticed Mike had a plastic worm. Mike had not paid for it. Bill told Mike to remind him to whip him when they got home. "I did not have to remind him," Mike said. "He tore me up." That was just one of the times Mike got a spanking. He says he sometimes got spankings that Vickie deserved. She agrees with him.
Vickie got only one spanking from her dad. She and Mike were eating the cr me filling from Oreo cookies and throwing the chocolate cookie part like Frisbees. Bill told them to stop. They were not to waste food. They ignored him. That was a serious mistake.
As is the case with a loving parent, Bill has always been concerned for the safety of his family. Mike says that no matter what happened, his dad's first question was, "Are you hurt?"
Mike, Vickie and Roger were childhood friends. One night when Mike and Roger were in high school, they drove Bill's car to a basketball game in Cobb County. Mike ran off a bank at a convenience store and did some serious damage to the vehicle. He worried through the entire game and all of the way home about having to tell his dad.
As soon as Mike got home, he told Bill what had happened.
"He asked me if I was hurt," Mike said. "After I told him I wasn't, he didn't even go out to look at the car that night. But the next day he asked some serious questions."
Safety was Bill's major concern when he bought Vickie her first car. It was a big car because he thought it would be safer for her to drive. Not long after that Vickie had a date. He was not happy when the boy pulled into the driveway. Bill commented, "That boy's car was about the size of a tin can."
Dot and Bill have seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. As Mike said about the grandchildren, "They were all crazy about him." They make a bee-line to hug him wherever they see him.
As many of you know, my children's father died when they were very young. Joel and John do not remember their father. Bill, and their uncle, James Cline, are role models for them of what a father should be. When Cindy was 15, among other things he did for her, Bill took her to a big field and taught her how to drive. She thinks he has the best hugs of anybody in the world.
Yes, Bill Cline is a big man. To his family, friends and those he has helped along the way, it is not his big body or those size 16 shoes that matter most. It is his big heart.
Like Jennifer said about her dad, there are many people who do not know where they would be without him. Bill Cline's life has been well lived.
Marguerite Cline is former mayor of Waleska and a former county school superintendent.