This past weekend Bill and I had privilege be a part of an old friend of ours saying goodbye to his mother. This friend of ours, Robert Williams, and his family lived in Springfield for years but moved away a number of years ago, possibly as much as 30 years ago. His mother died at the age of 92.
As we greeted Robert, he remarked that he could not believe how many local folks turned out for the graveside services, I would guess about 50 local old friends were there. I would have to tell you that I was a little surprised myself. But I didn’t count on a number of his old high school friends. We know that it is not always so in this day and time, when time has marched on and at mid-day on Saturday.
But Robert’s, and his mother Belle’s “Circle of Community” were there to tell him they cared for him and shared some part of his grief.
Robert has a special place in our hearts and in our lives. He came to work for us when we owned the Springfield Herald; somewhat at the insistence of mother … “he needs to get out and work” she said. He was a high school student at the time. A big gangly boy, who stumbled over his feet, he did not seem to be a prospect for a future that we now know he carved out for himself, but he would try to do what you asked of him.
How long he worked for the Herald I do not recall but I know that, possibly after two years, we nominated him for the first scholarship offered by the Georgia Press Association to the University of Georgia School of Journalism — he won the scholarship and after a couple of years at UGA his journalism career took off. I don’t remember all of his stops along the way, one was at Georgia Southern.
Then Robert returned to his roots, the weekly newspaper business. He brought a weekly newspaper in Blackshear and from there expanded to what is now a business that operates about five weekly or semi-weekly newspapers in South Georgia.
He has received many honors, both state and national, but has remained with a focus on the business of a small town newspaper.
Yes, we are proud of Robert, who first dipped his fingers in printer’s ink while working for us at the Springfield Herald, we are glad that Belle thought that was a good place for her boy to start his working career.
To come back to the first thoughts, I would say to Robert, “know that you and your family have a ‘Circle of Community’ in your old hometown who cares enough to share with you your sorrow at the loss of your mother.”