We are living in a culture and time when bad and negative news vastly outweigh and overshadow good and positive news.
Perhaps it is in our fallen human nature to prefer hearing about evil and disastrous occurrences more than events that celebrate and highlight great and positive things.
As regrettable as it might be, bad news sells and attracts more viewers and readers far more than good news.
Today, I want to say some good things about a few good men who I have become acquainted with over the years. These men have never, to my knowledge, been cited or selected for honors like Citizen of the Year, but they have demonstrated themselves to be outstanding citizens in our community and locale. Without having men of their caliber and character, a community would be completely inundated and dominated by unsavory fellows of the baser sort.
Though he has retired from the banking institution (where he worked for many years as a personal banker for a few banks here in Dillon), David Baxley, who retired while working at First Citizens Bank, is our first person of consideration.
Before he retired and moved back to his family’s farm in Marion, I had known him for many years. I was familiar with him first as a loan officer, who worked for one of the lending institutions on Main Street.
My parents had professional dealing with him at Security Federal, where I would later on in my early thirties, negotiate a construction loan with them for our church (as its primary representative).
Mr. Baxley was the banker who handled that loan.
Where I really got to know David Baxley at was when he became a personal banker at First Citizens Bank.
It was when I dealt with him there, as I pursued a construction loan to build my house back in the mid-eighties that I learned some vital lessons from him that have proven to be pivotal in my life, especially when it comes to money matters.
When I went into his office at First Citizens Bank and applied for the construction loan, after he looked at my credit rating and the debt I owed, he frankly said to me, “Rev., there is no one who is going to give you a loan with credit like this!”
Back then, I did not know how important it was to have good credit. I had been delinquent on paying my bills, especially on paying back a student loan.
I had sowed the wind of neglect and indebtedness and was now reaping the whirlwind.
Mr. Baxley got me on the right track and I have managed to go straight and be responsible and frugal about my money ever since.
I learned to treat everybody the same, regardless of their race, creed, or color. He was a good husband and father from all indications.
When he retired and moved back to his home in Marion County, First Citizens Bank and the community of Dillon loss a good man.
Conversing with the daughter of Mr. Truman Hare (who I recently met in a bank in Florence where she works) was the actual inspiration for this column.
Talking with her took me back to the day when I first became acquainted with Mr. Hare, who we commonly referred to as Truman, at the Western Auto Appliance Store where he worked at for several years.
Some years before it closed down in Dillon (due to the Wal-Mart effect on Main Street businesses), Truman served as the store manager.
The spirit of courtesy and integrity that so described his character and way of dealing with all of his customers back then (regardless of the after effect of Jim Crow), in spite of their race or color was what I most admired and remembered about him.
Unlike some who managed to tolerate African-Americans because of the money factor, Truman’s ability to be hospitable and accommodating to all of his customers was a true drawing card.
Even after Western Auto closed and Truman Hare went into business as a repair and fix-it man of appliances, most of his customer did not forget him.
They kept him very busy working on and repairing their ranges, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers. Some even would call on him for their plumbing needs. It was hard for him to turn many of his customers down, even when they lacked the money to pay him.
Truman Hare was and is an exceptional and truly good man who always, to me, resembled Larry Hagman (with glasses), who played J. R. Ewing on the Dallas series, which aired on CBS for many years.
The final man who we were going to consider in my column today is a person that I have been knowing for well over fifty years.
As a matter of a fact, I knew him when I was in high school (though he was quite a few grades under me). In my estimation, Jerry Rivers has always been the epitome of a good man, even as a youngster.
Through his character and integrity, he has portrayed the role of what it means to be a good man and model citizen ever since his adulthood.
Jerry has served in the Army and National Guard, from where he retired. He has been and is an exceptional and devoted husband, father, and grandfather.
After retiring from the military, Jerry served in our school district at a few schools as a special teacher’s aide for many years, where he took on many challenges with students, especially those with special needs. Jerry has been a good steward and faithful member of the church where he has been a member of nearly all of his life.
He has truly personified what it means to be a good neighbor and follower of Jesus Christ.
His quiet, modest, and friendly demeanor is what has endeared him to many over the years.
Men like Jerry often are overlooked when it comes to selecting candidates for community and civic awards because they deliberately avoid the limelight and are not self-assertive nor selfish. However, without such men of high morals, values, and repute our culture and community would be in complete chaos and despair.
Thank God for the presence of men like David Baxley, Truman Hare, and Jerry Rivers. They are representatives of good men who are the true heroes in the drama of life, in which we are all actors and characters.