DALLAS — In one of her favorite photos, Kate Corley Lassiter is being hugged tightly by her father as they ride on the carriage being pulled by the Budweiser Clydesdales. One of the many perks of being "Buster's" daughter.
"I have immense pride for who he was as a father. I have immense pride for who he was as a business person," she told WFAA two days after her father's death. "He was my hero, and he still is my hero and will always be."
James "Buster" Corley, 72, co-founder of the Dave & Buster's franchise, died Monday night from what Dallas Police confirmed was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
But Kate Corley Lassiter, his only child, only wanted to talk about her hero.
"I only have incredible, wonderful memories," she said. And those memories are what she wants the world to focus on now.
James "Buster" Corley, along with his business partner Dave Corriveau, created the first Dave & Buster's in Dallas in 1982. A coin flip determined whose name would go first.
Kate came along six years later.
"His first baby is Dave & Buster's," she said. "I am the second. But I got plenty of attention, don't let that fool you," she said.
Corley and Corriveau remained business partners and best friends and godfathers to each other's children until Corriveau's passing in 2015. Today, Dave & Buster's has 151 locations in the United States and two in Canada.
"It was overwhelming to read how many people loved him, how many people's lives he impacted," Kate Corley Lassiter said of the many messages she's received. "His biggest thing is 'everybody is somebody.' He never credited his success to him. It was about the Dave & Buster's family. We couldn't have done this without everybody."
"What he cared about was your family making good memories with us. He never said you work for me. You work 'with' me."
"It's a very cool thing to see my dad affect so many people and have so much influence on them, that he never took it for granted."
She finds proof of that in a memory from 9th grade. A Dave & Buster's employee, a line cook, lost everything in an apartment fire.
"And so he woke me up that morning, he said 'Kate, alright we're taking apart your bunk bed and we're taking all your bedroom furniture and we're taking everything from the guest room and we're gonna go take it to them.' And that's who he was to his core. He cared about every single person that was his team member."
Among the many mantras that James "Buster" Corley followed, is one that Kate keeps in a picture frame. It says "No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up."
In granting an interview at the most difficult time of her life, I asked if she was following that fatherly advice now?
"Yeah, no matter how you feel," she said. "And my dad always made sure to tell me and my mom that 'I am Kate Corley, I can do it.'"
He left that for her in writing too. A handwritten note from 2006, says "you are Kate Corley and you are very special and no one can change that. I'm your daddy and I and your mama are very proud of you. Love, Daddy." It is now a laminated keepsake she will hold forever, along with all those good memories.
"Oh, and his 100-watt smile and the laugh. When you got my dad really laughing, it was a sight to see."
"He was a legend. He was a legend because he was my dad. But he's also a legend to so many other people for so many different reasons."
That's what Buster's daughter wants you to remember too.
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