This is a tribute to two gentlemen that I was lucky enough to know. Their wives were life long friends, the former Patricia Arnsdorff and Mary Will Marchman, having grown up in Springfield as members at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.
Patricia met Chaudoin Hall of Rincon, and Mary Will found Jim Long at Georgia Southern. After each couple married, Chaudoin and Jim became the best of friends. They had parallel lives. Both were working couples rearing two children who were all involved in church, sports and the community together.
Jim and Chaudoin loved to hunt and fish. The Savannah River was a paradise for them and the river house Jim owned brought them much pleasure. Getting out in the boat, fishing or hunting deer was their favorite pastime. They both loved sports, including baseball and basketball, and enjoyed calling each other on the phone to evaluate the plays of the games they watched on television. Chaudoin had retired from the Corps of Engineers and surveying land. Jim also had retired, having taught and coached for 31 years. As a basketball coach at Effingham County High School, his influence on countless young lives over the years has left its imprint.
In retirement, these two found pleasure in the simple things that they could now go and do almost anytime. They loved to fish and entertain with a "fish fry" or cook and eat all sorts of game down at the river place. Each fellow enjoyed their association with Great Lakes Hunting Club and the fellowship with others that the club brought into their lives.
Chaudoin was a quiet man who did much behind the scenes at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church like cooking for special events, men’s gatherings and Easter breakfast. He never failed to ask how you were and greet you, shaking your hand and making you feel special. His kindness was great and he had a big heart. He loved playing cards and was a regular at my father’s weekly lunch and "Set Back" games.
Jim Long always greeted you with a smile and "hey, how you doing?" Coach loved to drive slowly down the Stillwell Road and make several trips a day to the river. Jim took great pride in his catalpa trees and would stop often as he drove by their farm on Stillwell Road to see how his catalpa worms were doing.
His trademark outfit was baggy khaki shorts, a bucket hat and shoes with Velcro fasteners. He was very comfortable without a shirt and had the tan to prove it. Jim loved people and they loved him; that was very evident by the two fine letters to the editor published in this paper over the last few weeks from Joe Usher and Janie Lynes. I cannot say more than they did regarding his work with young people.
It is ironic that both of these men over the past year or so had developed very different chronic illnesses. As each got treatment, they still found time together to get away and head for the river. They got "beat up" by briars riding in the woods and other escapades as illness and aging took its toll on them. Supporting each other in hospitalizations and countless procedures and treatments, they leaned on one another.
Rather unexpectedly in November 2011, Chaudoin passed away. We all knew he was ill, but no one thought it was so serious. It broke our hearts and especially Jim’s. Jim rallied and moved on, trying to stay upbeat until his illness suddenly turned into a life-threatening situation and he passed away rather quickly, too, in April.
When Mary Will called to tell our pastor, she told him, "Jim’s gone fishing with Chaudoin." No doubt these two friends of over 50 years are up there enjoying each other’s company, having passed away about five months apart.
I would like both the Hall and Long families to know that both these men were special and they will be missed in many ways. Each man leaves a wife, fine children and grandchildren who loved them dearly. And Jim had one and a half great-grandchildren. We grieve with you as we see their empty chair or pew in church.
When breakfast is cooked at Holy Trinity, no doubt, Chaudoin will come to mind. As basketball season rolls around and the bleacher is empty, Coach Long will be sorely missed. This is a salute to the long friendship of Jim and Chaudoin who will both be forever in our memories and our hearts. Fortunately I had the privilege of knowing each of them.
This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: email@example.com