America's Jimmy Houston Changing the World through Fishing
As sure as the sun shines every morning for the last 30 years of my life, so does a true American Icon, "Jimmy Houston." Jimmy Houston's title of America's Favorite Fisherman is definitely true. But his legend and bass-fishing accomplishments pale in comparison with Jimmy Houston the man. Much of the world already knows about Mr. Houston's accomplishments, such as winning the Oklahoma State Championship as a college senior in 1966, or winning over a million dollars in bass tournaments.
The list goes on:
But Mr. Houston's true champion colors come out in a different arena that most people never get to read about. I first learned about Mr. Houston's fishing abilities and his gift to teach and touch others through fishing about 30 years ago when I was working as an undercover police officer, infiltrating and arresting really bad people who hurt children. I would come home from a late shift, and in my mind all I could think about was a dark and cruel world. I would flip on the TV and there he was in some boat on a body of water, with his jubilant smile and exhilarating laugh. His passion for fishing and educating others on how to fish came shining through. Without even knowing it, Mr. Houston took me away from that violence and horror, and gave me a strong abiding connection with God's natural world. It took me back to a state of mind that I did not want to ever wander from. It's called Peace. Thank you Mr. Houston!
Never in a million years did I ever think I would meet or speak to Mr. Houston. We were worlds apart in every aspect of life. But somehow a little magical word called 'destiny' took place. A few months back at the grand opening of a Bass Pro Shops location, Mr. Houston was there. He spoke to my business partner and to me, briefly. He shook our hands and headed to attend to his thousands of fans. In that short hand-shaking session, I could feel the sincerity of Mr. Houston's words: "Call me, we will talk." I have heard that before from others in life. This time it was different. This American superstar of fishing meant it. That is when I realized that Mr. Houston's greatest assets had nothing to do with fishing, but as a human being.
Jimmy Houston -- the man -- has achieved the greatest accomplishments any person could ever reach. His sacred vow and oath to God with his wife Chris to love each other for the rest of their lives forever, eternally rings true to this day. It is well over 50 years. Next is the greatest of all accomplishments, which is the creation of a life. The creating of another human being is the miracle of life. Jimmy and Chris Houston created two miracles along their journey of life, Jamie and Sherri. They even raised a cousin Richard Sam since he was a baby. By changing the life of another child, Mr. and Mrs. Houston, you have again changed the world. Life is obviously your ocean and love has been your boat. The strength of the Houston's love for their family and people is their greatest strength of all. It has very little or nothing to do with fishing.
But it is through fishing that Mr. Houston is changing the world, just like the motto of 'The Online Fisherman.' Mr. Houston's moral compass does not stop there. His honesty, integrity and faith followed him in 2003 when he chose to forgo wearing a required patch during fishing tournaments because it conflicted with his moral values. No big deal, right? No, it meant that Mr. Houston would give up the chance to win very large purses of money and his qualifying points towards the Bassmaster Classic and Angler of the Year. Clearly, Mr. Houston's actions show our children that the wealth of a man is not what he earns nor the size of his bank account, nor what his possessions are, but the character he stands by in the most trying of times. Lastly and little to my knowledge, when I bought my first 1/8th-oz. Blakemore Marabou Roadrunner because of Mr. Houston fishing with it on Lake Tenkiller, that I would in a huge way be connected to something greater than ourselves.
When I speak or write for The Online Fisherman, my voice may have been just a whisper, but someone just might have heard it. Even though I am a nobody to the world, I figure if I keep writing, just maybe I can be a somebody to one person for the better. Mr. Houston, your voice has been heard loud and clear and we all listen. America's Favorite Fisherman to us at The Online Fisherman has impacted many lives for the better of mankind. We never know what life throws at us. But the way I look at it is, no matter what it throws, everything will be okay because God is our catcher.
Many years ago, a Make-A-Wish child said to me that faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase. So true. But faith has been with me since I was a little boy.
My Mother and Father have kept me believing in what good and right is in this world. They have led by Example, Honesty, Integrity and Faith. Mr. Houston you would love them! My greatest fear was never about being a good fisherman, but disappointing the people I love and respect the most, my Mom and Dad. I love them and hold them dear to my heart wherever I go. So as my Mother and Father taught me, the best things in life are free and inside us. Things such as love, kindness and compassion, and the best thing we could do with that is share it.
That is where Mr. Houston and I have a common bond, even more then fishing! I have been a Wish Granter and spokesperson for the Make-A-Wish foundation for about 19 years. I heard Mr. Houston say a while back the most important thing he has done is reaching out and helping the sick and hurt children like the Make-A-Wish children and at St. Jude Hospital. His kindness and compassion does not stop there, it's for all the people in our country that are less fortunate.
Mr. Houston not only donates his money to some of the charities listed below, but also his time! Some of these are: The Wounded Warrior Project, the Breast Cancer Foundation, the American Red Cross Disaster Fund, the Free Kids Fishing Clinics, and the list goes on. Again, leading by example.
In closing, the title of "America's Favorite Fisherman" is small in comparison to Jimmy Houston, "America's Ethical Humanitarian" title. Plain and simple, Jimmy Houston is a good man and more of us need to follow in his footsteps. What a wonderful world it would be.
May peace and safety be with all our Armed Forces.
Captain David M. Rieumont
The Online Fisherman Inc.