Jerry Revish has worn many hats in his 48 years in central Ohio: journalist, pastor, community leader and father.
With two adult children — Jérôme, senior vice-president at Cardinal Healthand Nicole Revish Curtain, owner of a clintonville hair salon – the retired WBNS-TV (Channel 10) news anchor has taken on a new role: surrogate father to the South Side community where his church, Temple Church of the Unity of God in Christis located.
“Here in church I have a lot of young men and young girls, and I try to be kind of a father figure to some of them,” said Revish, 73, from Dublin. . “Some of them don’t know their dads, which in some ways makes you think, ‘How is that possible?'”
Revish has experienced triumph and tragedy, having covered such events as the 1979 desegregation of Columbus City schools; Operation Desert Storm in 1991; the 1993 Lucasville prison riot; and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
But, he says, his most difficult task was learning to be a “dad.”
Check out more South Side coverage from The Dispatch Mobile Newsroom this month at the Parsons Library branch:
“I had to learn how to be a father,” he said. “It was quite frustrating in some ways because I couldn’t afford to do the things I wanted to do for my kids or with my kids all the time.
“But I held on. I let them know, ‘I love you, and this house is going to be your house, and we’re going to shake things up here.'”
Jerry Revish: Congregants respect his dedication to church, family and community
Revish regularly shakes things up in his church, where, in addition to a Sunday sermon, he gives advice; ties to resources, such as food, clothing, and school supplies; and, say his parishioners, hope.
Rose Bush, 66, of the West Side, who attends Unity Temple Church of God in Christ, said Revish regularly reaches out to others.
“We had Salvation Army gentlemen come in every Sunday because it was part of their rehab. He interacted with them personally and he didn’t treat them any differently than anyone else,” Bush said. “If they had a need – housing, clothing, food – he always made sure they had what they needed.”
Bush said Revish served as a mentor to those who needed him most.
People like André Harper.
“He really makes a point of getting to know the men in the church in particular, and we had a great relationship,” said Harper, 45, of the Lewis Center. “I know he cares about me.”
Harper grew up without a father in his life, a void he said Revish filled.
“He grew into this character organically, and when I came to church, I felt a deep sense of connection with him,” Harper said. “I asked him out for breakfast, and we got on really well.”
Harper says he didn’t see a news anchor in Revish — who joined WBNS-AM/FM in 1974 before moving to WBNS-TV in 1980 — only a father figure. He said he strives daily to follow Revish’s example, not only as a pastor but also as a family man.
“He insists that men and men not only engage in our Christian walk, but (also) to ensure that we protect and be good fathers and husbands in our homes,” Harper said. “He’s a great example of that, and I aspire to be like him, to be the family man that he is. He helps me, talks to me and always takes time for me. He’s never too busy to help, talk or listen.”
A childhood surrounded by strong men
Originally from Youngstown, Revish describes himself as a “union kid”, his father having worked at Youngstown Sheet & Tube.
He says being around strong men throughout his childhood influenced his view of fatherhood.
“I only saw strong men in my neighborhood coming in. They were all steelworkers — pretty much blue collar,” Revish said. “But I watched them in the morning getting into their cars or waiting at the bus stop with their black lunch boxes to go to work, and I was like, ‘They were taking care of their families, taking care of their wives, if they had any, and their children.”
His father, Dewey, had a quiet humility that is still close to his heart.
As an adult, Revish, who started his church in 2011 with his wife, Danielle, said he has seen many black fathers feel tormented because they are sometimes unable to properly care for their children.
“You’re asking someone who has never had a positive role model or very little to do these heroic feats of success without giving them the means — the tools, the building blocks to make it happen,” he said. . “It’s important that they understand what it takes.”
Revish advises men, young and old, on a variety of topics. Some are practical like how to dress for an interview, prepare, speak properly and strive to look your best. He started an initiative at the church, “Top Dog”, to teach young people between the ages of 10 and 18.
There are also more serious topics, like how to be a father and what he called “the talk” about how black families should interact with the police.
“Nowadays, for our black boys and girls, you have to have this discussion with them about how to deal with law enforcement,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s always something that has to be…that there’s a certain way to engage with someone who’s a police officer.”
Balancing work and family is always a difficult task
Early in his career, Revish had to balance his duties between dad and presenter, which he says was no easy task. But he said he was working hard to find time with his children.
“When I wasn’t working, I was with them,” he said. “I was giving them my time.”
Saturdays often meant books and bagels, with trips to the Columbus Metropolitan Library and a stop for bagels afterwards.
“A lot of times it’s not about the money,” he said. “It’s just experiences, just taking them to a rally, a red, white and boom! parade or Labor Day or many church activities where you meet other people and are exposed to them. .”
His children remember a father who emphasized education and didn’t accept “well” as an answer to the age-old question, “How was school today?”
“We had to literally write him a diary, like write it, tell me what it means,” his daughter recalled. “Tell me what your day was like and what happened. He would even take the time to spell check and say, ‘Well, I think you should write it like this’ or ‘That’s what did you mean when you said that?”
His son said it was sometimes difficult to have a local celebrity as a father, but it got easier over time.
“As a little kid, it was cool seeing your dad on TV. There’s a bit of a local celebrity playing. Then it comes under increased scrutiny because of that celebrity and getting assure and understand that when you leave home, when you are in school, or when you work, you represent something bigger than yourself,” he said. “My dad was, and is, a wonderful dad, role model, protector, counselor, friend – all of the above.”
One of the biggest pieces of advice Revish said he often gives whenever advising men on how to be fathers is simple: Understand that they’re not some kind of superhero.
“Be a loving man, don’t be afraid to express your love, and don’t be afraid to show some vulnerability,” he said. “You’re not Superman, and if they don’t know it, your kids will find out one day.”