(With the upcoming Veterans Day, this week’s column is a chapter from my book, The Last Man to Let You Down, My Daddy, the Undertaker.)
During his 76 years, my daddy wore many hats. Well, sometimes they were caps. The list would
include delivery boy, drug-store soda jerk, car hop, meat-cutter, Army medic, embalmer, funeral
director, ambulance driver, justice of the peace, chief magistrate judge, deacon, coroner, city
commissioner and civic leader, just to name a few. Well, I should mention that, as coroner, he also wore
the sheriff’s hat for a few days in 1961. But that’s a story for another day.
One of Big Dink’s favorite caps was emblazoned with the Lions Club’s emblem. As a charter
member in the early 1950s, he stayed active until his death in 1998.
In tribute to her late husband, Mother became one of the first women—if not the first—to become a
member of the Jesup Lions Club. In her vivacious way, she energized the club and served as its first
Our family never bought a broom that wasn’t purchased from Big Dink during the Lions Club’s
annual broom sale. He kept a small inventory in his vehicle to make sure he wouldn’t miss an
opportunity to help his favorite civic organization.
Daddy took special pride is helping vision-impaired citizens to get the glasses which they couldn’t
afford to buy. He, along with other club members, collected thousands of pairs of used eyeglasses.
Big Dink was the go-to Lion, and his telephone rang steadily with people wanting to stop by our house
or his office. When they arrived, he would pull out a box or two of old glasses and invite them to select
As a World War II veteran, he especially enjoyed the Lions Club’s United States flag project. On
national holidays, Lions Club members erected the red-white-and-blue around downtown Jesup.
Our children, Alan, Emily and Eric, looked forward to helping their granddaddy on those days.
Right now, if you asked them, they’d say riding in his truck is a favorite childhood memory.
Our younger son, Eric, once wrote in his newspaper column that “during those early-morning
hours I learned to respect those who had sacrificed their lives fighting for our freedom.” By the time
Eric was old enough to help, his granddaddy had a new Ford truck.
Before that, Emily and Alan rode in Granddaddy’s second-hand GMC, which he purchased from
Morris Furniture Company. The old gold-faded truck had a habit of backfiring when he shifted the
gears. And when that happened, Emily remembers how her granddaddy would laugh and shout,
“Duck!” as if they were being shot at.
All these years later, we can still hear him laughing.