Cecil B. Day
The Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center is named in memory of a native Georgian who was a shining example of a diligent, hardworking, committed, family, Christian man.
In rearing his five children, Cecil B. Day would explain that just like an ugly caterpillar goes through the metamorphous process and emerges a beautiful butterfly, anyone who asks Jesus into his heart can gain everlasting salvation. His loving wife Deen wanted to bring that message to life in his memory by funding the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. On so many different levels, this facility brings enjoyment with education to all who are touched by it – near and far. Cecil B. Day was founder and chairman of the Board of Days Inn of America, Inc.
The budget-luxury concept of Days Inn began with an idea Day had in 1968 while traveling with his family in New England. He realized there was a void in lodging accommodations for Middle Americans – the family with two, three or four children – traveling on a limited budget. This realization was reinforced when, during a family vacation to California, he observed the success of an existing budget motel chain. He returned to Atlanta and designed a 60-unit motel module which combined budget and luxury features. The plans were completed in the summer of 1969 and construction began on the first Days Inn in February 1970. His experience and success in construction convinced him that standardization of construction and operations would generate substantial savings which subsequently would be passed on to the motel guest through low room rates.
The New York Times once detailed how as the son of a Southern Baptist minister, Day was very active in religious organizations outside of work but he also endeavored to incorporate and demonstrate to his Christian beliefs at work. When a representative of the Gideon organization complained that motel guests frequently stole the Bibles placed by the Gideons in the motel rooms, Day responded, “Who needs a Bible more than a person who steals one?” He later ordered New Testaments and placed in each room of his hotel chain with the printed invitation “Take it with you.” Between 1971 and 1978, more than one million Testaments were distributed.
His dynamic leadership and entrepreneurial spirit had created a unique concept in the lodging industry. The life of Cecil Day is a noble example of a Christian steward using his personal life and business abilities to express the love and hope of his faith. How appropriate for a center focused on butterflies, which are viewed around the world as a symbol of endurance, change, hope, and life, to continue the legacy of Cecil B. Day.