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Lasting legacies

POSTED: March 31, 2014 8:54 p.m.
Photo by Pat Donahue/

Descendants of three Effingham County men who were honored by the General Assembly for their lives and works start the pledge of allegiance Saturday afternoon.

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Family members gathered Saturday afternoon to remember the lives of three Effingham County men honored recently by the General Assembly.

Resolutions praising the lives and work of Deacon William “Bubba” Henry Hunter Sr., Benjamin Franklin “B.F.” Eason Sr. and Frederick Doberson were read and presented to their surviving family members.

“These three individuals we honor today demonstrate that a community’s success doesn’t happen by accident,” said state Sen. Jack Hill, who read the resolution honoring Doberson. “They happen because there were dedicated family members and dedicated community members who cared about others.”

Said Franklin Goldwire: “As we celebrate the lives and legacies of these three gentlemen, we too acknowledge that life is making choices. They created a legacy worth celebrating not just today but for eternity. Families and friends, be proud.”

State Rep. Jon Burns said his late father and Eason knew each other well, and his dad spoke highly of Eason. Others Burns talked to about Eason said he gave wise counsel.

Born in Clyo in 1918, Eason was a sharecropper, carpenter and machinist. He had nine children, 21 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren and nine great-great-grandchildren. He also served as a lifetime member and treasurer of the Effingham County NAACP chapter and also was instrumental in having the county divided into election districts. He also served on the Effingham County hospital board for 11 years.

Eason also was grand marshal of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade and was a deacon at Oak Grove Baptist Church for 75 years. He was an executive of the Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Churches Association’s first district.

“There is so much that I can say,” said Delores Eason, B.F. Eason’s daughter who traveled from Boston to accept the resolution on behalf of the family. “I went back to the homestead (Friday) and I didn’t know I was going to miss it as much as I did. It’s kind of hard to talk it about now. We always had what we needed. Not always what we wanted, but always what we needed.”

Hunter was a member of Macedonia Baptist Church for 80 years and graduated as high school salutatorian in 1940, with his sister Ernestine as valedictorian. He was chosen to the deacon board of Macedonia Baptist in 1942,serving for 35 years, and he was a member of Widow Son Lodge No. 396, where he was presented with a certificate of life membership on Sept. 21, 2010.

A successful farmer, Hunter worked for Union Camp and was employed by Ratchford’s Meat Manufacturing Business. He also drove a school bus and ran a family-owned and operated store.

Hunter was presented a plaque on May 30, 2004, for his historical sketch of the Pilgrim Baptist Normal Institute for Colored and his verbal history of the Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Association.

In 2007, he received a metal shield of honor from the Fraternal Order of Police for his active support and financial contributions. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP and in January 2010, he was selected as the Effingham County branch’s humanitarian of the year for his community service in veterans affairs, education, historical accounting, religion, civic activities, political actions and for justice and equality.

Shalynda Warren, Hunter’s granddaughter, noted how he had a love for his family and for poetry, even reading a poem he wrote about 12 years ago.

“He had a memory like an elephant,” she said. “He could recite poems he learned as a child, even in his elder years.”

Warren also said her grandfather poured his heart into everything he did, whether it was a Bible lesson or making eggnog on Christmas Day.

“There are people in this world who make it a better place simply by being in it,” she said. "They walk through life touching the lives of all they meet. William Henry Hunter Sr. was that kind of man. Having him in your life meant that you always had what you needed when you needed it the most. He was the perfect example of hard work and dedication.”

Doberson served on the Guyton planning and zoning boards and was grand marshal of the city’s annual Christmas parade. He also worked with the city, the Effingham County health and recreation departments and the Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church to build the Pilgrim Walking Trail. The trail was built to improve the cardiovascular health of its users.

Doberson also obtained a grant to restore and upgrade the Highland Park playground and raised money for Veterans Park.

Karen Doberson said she was honored to receive the proclamation on behalf of her father.

“Only after his passing did I realize he was involved in so much,” she said. “I was truly blessed that the last six months of his life were the best six months of my life. Dad was a very proud man and he was straight by the book. He was a man of honor. He served his country. He worked all his life. He was a survivor. Dad, I love you more today than I did yesterday.”

Burns pointed to the book of Matthew, chapter 10, and the example Doberson, Eason and Hunter set through their lives.

“For whoever wants to save his life, will lose it. But whoever loses his life, will find it,” Burns said. “The greatest use of a life is for something that will outlast it. If you invest your life in others, and in your personal relationship with God, your investment will outlast you. Losing yourself means making a conscious effort to make others more important than you.

“I think these three gentlemen demonstrated that lesson. We’re certainly a better place because of the sacrifices they made for the betterment of our community.”

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