My Biggest Fan

Our mothers are our first teachers. Our first coaches. Our first cheerleaders. From the moment we arrive on this earth, they begin helping us discover and develop our gifts and talents. Of course, our fathers are equally devoted to that effort too. And, if we’re lucky, there are an entire host of people in our lives serving as coaches and mentors along the way.

Shouldn’t our workplaces be part of that team? Shouldn’t they help us be all we were meant to be?

Regular readers of this blog know that at Barry-Wehmiller our commitment to our team members and their personal growth is an organizational imperative. It’s why we do what we do. I often say I won’t leave this earth proud of the machines our company has built but rather the lives we touch each day through the course of our business.

As Mother’s Day approaches this Sunday, I find myself thinking about my own mother, Marjorie Chapman Abernathy, and the role she played in my development as a leader. At age 95, her mind has become addled and she struggles to remember what I do and what I have accomplished. But I feel her love and support every day and I am constantly reminded of the traits she passed on to me. I credit her for my common sense and deep sense of compassion which have served me well in shaping Barry-Wehmiller into a sustainable business that keeps people at the core of its purpose.

In honor of my mother’s recent birthday, we compiled a video of clips, interviews and photos of her through the years. I share it with you today to pay tribute to my most ardent champion.

If your mother is still in your life, take this opportunity to tell her thanks for being your biggest fan.

If you’re a mom, may this be a reminder to let your child or children know that you are deeply honored to be their most enthusiastic cheerleader.

If you’re a leader, commit to being part of the special team that helps those you lead be all they were meant to be. Their mothers will appreciate it.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the amazing moms in our lives!

Truly Human Leadership is found throughout Barry-Wehmiller Companies, where Bob Chapman is Chairman and CEO. A $3+ billion global capital equipment and engineering consulting firm, Barry-Wehmiller’s 12,000 team members are united around a common belief: we can use the power of business to build a better world. Chapman explores that idea in his Wall Street Journal best-selling book, Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring For Your People Like Family, available from Penguin Random House.


  • Alison says:

    I love this interview so much. What a wonder person, and great sense of humor. I feel so lucky to have had some spirited moments with Marge. Thinking of you all right now.

  • Jennifer May says:

    Such a sweet, smart and loving lady. I wish I had the chance to meet her. May she rest in Peace.

  • Leila says:

    It’s a beautiful tribute , very significant. A sweet day mothers

  • Janet Shepherd says:

    Cousin Bob, what a beautiful tribute to Aunt Marge. So many details I didn’t know. Thank you for sharing that! Blessings to you–Janet Shepherd

  • Cynthia Bayuk-Bishop says:

    Mr. Bob, you never cease to inspire me. I’m really thankful for your life’s mission and to be a small cog in the wheel to advance it in the education world. Your mother gives me clearance to be feisty! Blessings!!

  • Greg Williams says:

    Wow, what an amazing story, thank you for sharing it with all of us!

  • Kit Tennis says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful glimpse into your mother with us, Bob. She’s proof that family, however we find it, is essential to to our lives and that mothers are treasures we should never take for granted.

  • Sherry Berchenbriter Lindberg says:

    Oh, Bob! Thank you for this wonderful tribute to your mom. I feel so blessed to have had this glimpse into Aunt Marge’s life! Absolutely love when she tells why Uncle Bill was attracted to her! Truly an amazing woman!

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