Practice Makes Perfect
Charles Blake calls the shots as coach, politician, entrepreneur, husband and father of five
By Angela E. Thomas Photography by Katie Childs
Charles Blake wears many hats. He owns a non-emergency medical transport company, and his family recently started a funeral home. He’s a civil servant, representing Arkansas’s Distract 36, and for three years, he’s coached basketball and baseball teams. However, the titles he holds dearest are husband and father.
Blake has five children: Chloey, 11; Charles III, 9; Ari, 8; Elizabeth, 6; and Bronx, 2. One may wonder: how does he juggle his many duties?
“I’ve had a motto for the last five or six years: sleep is overrated,” he said, smiling. “I divide my day into percentages. When we are in session, I spend the majority of my time at the Capitol. When it comes to my businesses, I work when it’s dark, early in the morning and late at night, which is possible since the kids go to bed at 8:30 p.m. I’ve found that 5 hours of sleep is sufficient.”
Blake credits his parents for his work ethic. “My parents taught us that if we wanted fulfilled lives, we should serve others. So, when I had an opportunity to stand up for my community, to speak for them, to give them a voice, I did so. It’s been extremely rewarding and challenging at the same time,” he said.
Service and a love for children comes naturally.
Chloey started out playing soccer; however, she later moved on to basketball. Blake’s sons followed the same pattern.
“The boys are just far enough apart that they can’t play together, which means I can coach one of them and watch the other. My dad did the same thing. He’s a guy who would take in kids. My younger brother followed his example as well—he coaches football at Little Rock Central High School, and my sister-in-law is the golf professional for First Tee.”
Blake said his father taught them the importance of sports, and, as a result, he too is an advocate for sports for boys and girls. “Participating in sports teaches soft skills, the ability to deal with tough situations and allows children to bond,” he said.
He said a strong work ethic, how to deal with failures, and perseverance are also important lessons taught through sports. That’s why he is happy to ensure his children have that experience.
While she’s only 6, Elizabeth, according to Blake, is perhaps the most athletic of his children. She’s into dance and gymnastics.
With so many activities, it’s important that he, wife Ganelle, and Stephanie, the eldest’s children’s mother, maintain a synchronized calendar.
“We are a blended family, but we make it work. We have a lot of help, especially from the grandparents—all of them. We have a great partnership. None of this would work without Stephanie. Being a successful blended family is a process; however, it’s all about the kids, so we make it work,” Blake said.
“My father once told me that he’d had a lot of success in life; however, he knew his true purpose was to be a father,” he said. “He’s done incredible things, and he’s always been there for his family. He’s set a great example; in fact, my brothers and I compete to see who can be the best dad.”
Blake admits that with so many irons in the fire that one of his biggest challenges is finding time to put Ganelle first.
“There are no takebacks. I must find time to show Ganelle that I’m her husband first. I sometimes worry about spreading myself too thin.”
He counts among his victories thus far: making their blended family work, being a constant presence in his children’s lives and being an example for his friends. “I think it’s important for people my age to know how much value children can add to their lives.”
The greatest lesson he’s learned thus far? “Oh, that I’m not Superman. I cannot do it all by myself. It really does take a village,” Blake said. “I’m also trying to accept life as it comes and realize that I cannot control everything. My parents’ mantra is ‘This too shall pass,’ and it’s true. I also have a friend who stresses that ‘one should never make permanent decisions based on temporary situations.’”
He offers the following advice to other fathers. “Fatherhood is a series of practices. As a father, you’re always practicing, preparing for the next ‘game,’ showing your kids how to be parents. You’re going to mess up, but you cannot be afraid to fail. Just keep going, knowing next time you’re going to be better.”