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Column: How Yankee-born Tink became a hometown hero
Ronda Rich
Ronda Rich

There are many compliments that I can give to my husband, Tink.

Firstly, he is a devoted man of God. He rises early each morning to spend two hours in Bible study.

Daddy would be proud of that. And that he reads the King James Bible, albeit the New King James.

He has a work ethic that would match any Appalachian mountaineer. He’s a television writer, which is much harder than it seems. Sometimes, he will sit in his chair writing for five or six hours without moving. I’ve known him to work 48 hours straight without sleep.

Tink adores me. Occasionally, too much. Like Mama used to say when I was child, taking every step she took, “Get out from under my feet!” He clucks after me like a duck which has become an inside joke to us.

When I need him to stop hovering, I say, “Cluck, cluck.”

Let’s put all this aside to tell this story: John Tinker, a Yankee son of New England patriots who spent half of his life in the midst of Hollywood, and who numbers among his kinfolk and friends some of the most famous names in entertainment, has become a hero to the South’s common man.

He is the first to jump into a cause to defend an underdog who is being bullied or choked. When he hears of an injustice, steel rises in his brown eyes and he sets his jaw so tightly that it becomes square.

He has the heart of a warrior. He will not back down. Recently, it looked like he was going to be whipped like General Pickett was at Gettysburg.

Logically, I listed all the reasons that he could not win. He listened. He thought briefly then narrowed his eyes. “No,” he said firmly. “I will not give up. With God, anything is possible. He’s in control, so it could happen.”

To my amazement and admiration, God and Tink won.

I like to think he has become the unofficial mayor of our little rural community. Folks, especially widow women, call when they need help, advice or a courageous fighter.

While I cheer Tink on and pray for him, I stay out of the fights because I’m a journalist who still clings to the lessons in my college ethics class. I made an A-plus, which means that I still remember my professional responsibilities and the lines that I shouldn’t cross.

Tink doesn’t need me, though. He does just fine on his own.

Several years ago, a sweet subdivision that borders the back of the Rondarosa was facing a zoning issue that threatened to jeopardize property values and folks’ quiet way of life. We had only been married a few years so I had no idea that Tink would take his time with any such.

“We have to fight this,” he said firmly. “We can’t just stand by and let these people be run over.”

At the time, Tink did not know one name of any of “these people.” Now, they are all his friends and cheerleaders. If he died today, they would pack the church for his funeral.

I’ll never forget the sight from our front porch. Tink, wearing a Massey Ferguson hat and carrying a clipboard, walked down our long, graveled drive. He turned right onto the blacktop country road and spent hours knocking on the doors of houses that are situated long distances apart. Then, he walked to the subdivision.

When all was said and done, he gathered 132 signatures (out of 148 possibilities) on the petition that asked mercy for the grocery store clerk, the bank teller, the teacher, the mechanic and many other common folks.

That victory was the beginning of his legend.

Around these parts, people know me as the daughter of a “fine man” and a “wonderful woman.”

These days, they are all thankful for the man I married and they consider him “one of us.”

Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “What Southern Women Know About Faith.” Sign up for her newsletter at Her column publishes weekly.