To the point week of 1-1-09

3

WHAT A WILD YEAR this has been. We have seen many things during 2008 that we may look back on in future years and only then recognize the full historic significance of what has happened.

As we near the end of one year and face the beginning of a new one, there are many bittersweet memories that I have about the past 12 months.

Finishing off a year always gives me pause to think about those people whom we have lost since last January.

Personally, I lost my grandfather last January, just before my birthday, and although there is still an empty space within me, I know that he is better off now than when he was battling health problems, but I will miss him.

On page five of today’s edition is a listing of all of the deaths that appeared in the pages of Vevay Newspapers. While there are names on the list that will bring thoughts of memories to each of us, there are some in particular that involve people who I will never forget.

People like Brett Graham and Ed Clapham; Jean Tilley and John Turner and Shirley Gregory.

Bill Nail was one of my first friends when I moved here in 1984, and we lost him in June. We also mourned the passing of Jean Lock, a very special woman who was so devoted to her family; and when Bob Butler passed away in July, he left a legacy of work that he had done to preserve the memory of his son, Bryant.

Charlie Knox also left us in July; while August saw the passing of Sandy Kidwell, Dabby Whitham, and Carrie Van Norstran – forever “Hanover” in my memories.

We also lost Cathy Vann in August. Her fight to defeat cancer may not have ended in victory; but her courage and her strength leaves a lasting imprint on each who knew her.

The county was staggered in September when Dillon Henry died after a four-wheeler accident; and his friends and classmates still sport red ribbons as a way to remember their fallen friend.

The community of Patriot and all of Switzerland County lost a true friend when Basil Armstrong passed away in October; and in November we lost the truly one-of-a-kind Johnny Andrew.

Thanksgiving Day saw the passing of Jack Sullivan, whose fingerprints are all over the economic and educational development of this county.

From the senior center that bears his name to memories of her pharmacy; the extent and impact of Jack’s work as a supporter of Switzerland County while a board member of the Paul Ogle Foundation may truly never be known.

Finally we lost Clara Burroughs this week. Many of you may not know her, but she was very special to my family as a fellow member of Switzerland Baptist Church years ago.

We once took a weekend church trip to Nashville, Tennessee; and our Saturday schedule had us going from the Hermitage to the Country Music Hall of Fame to the Ryman Auditorium. Then is was back to change clothes before heading off for a performance of the Grand Ole Opry.

A hectic schedule for anyone, but we all worried that Clara may not be able to handle the pace of the day.

I remember finding her sitting outside the Ryman on a bench that afternoon. She was soaking up the sunshine and enjoying a beautiful fall day.

I remember asking her if she wanted to go back early and cut the day short so she could get some rest – but she wouldn’t have any part of it.

As tired as she was, she wasn’t going to miss a moment. It was a glorious adventure, and she knew that there would always be time to rest, so she was going to see it all.

That night our seats were in the balcony of the Grand Ole Opry, and because they didn’t provide an elevator, Clara was unsure as to whether or not she could make it up the stairs.

Opry officials saw her dilemma, and instead escorted her right down in front of the stage, where she enjoyed front row access for the entire evening.

When I think of Clara Burroughs, I will always think of that weekend. She was tired and she was battling her age, but she embraced the entire adventure as though it was her last.

As we head into 2009; I think we could all learn from Clara’s spirit.

Why miss an opportunity? Just grab the moment and seize the day.