July 4, 2024

Troy Fore leaves a legacy of a ‘good man’


            Troy Fore was already at 361 W. Plum St. by the time that I got there in August 1971. But the same magnetic force drew us to the Wayne County Press (WCP). On June 30, that “magnet” sat—in his seersucker suit—two pews in front of me at Troy’s funeral.

            If Elliott Brack’s pants-on-fire style of newspapering attracted you, the passion that he emitted was permanent. EEB—as he is known—still walks the walk. At 88, he cranks out the Gwinnett Forum, a five-days-a-week digital newsletter that includes his personal column.

            Troy and I weren’t the only ones who got the Brack Brand of ink pumped into our veins. EEB’s son, Andy, is editor and publisher of the CHARLESTON CITY PAPER. For years, Andy’s sister, Betsy, was editor of Georgia Clips. Troy’s son Howard is affiliated with The Porch Press, serving several communities in Atlanta.

            Jamie Denty wrote for the WCP and was later an editor of The Press-Sentinel. She continues to write her award-winning weekly column. Her son, Eric, is publisher of The Press-Sentinel, and he is my partner in Jesup.

My sons, Alan and Eric, started their careers at ages 7 and 8 in the mailroom of The Press-Sentinel. Today Alan is chairman of Community Newspapers Inc. (CNI). Eric serves on CNI’s board, and he is publisher of The Bitter Southerner.

We’ve all benefited from what EEB preached on Plum Street.

            From Day One, I was impressed by Troy. He had the curiosity and courage to ask hard questions. I will never forget one late-night WCP session. Elbow to elbow, Troy, EEB and I were pasting up an edition. Troy and EEB began debating how to handle a particular item. Frustrated, EEB barked, “Troy, this is my damn paper. When you get one of your own, you can do it the way you want to.”

            Troy did get his own paper. I’ll get to that in a minute.

            On Feb. 3, 1977, when the Wayne County Press merged with the Jesup Sentinel, Fred Eden, editor of the Sentinel, was impressed with Troy, too. Fred said, “Troy writes like he has an IQ of 130 or 140.” I replied, “Well, Fred, that’s because Troy probably does.” In my decades of working with Troy, I never saw him rushed or rattled. In In fact when the waters were rocky, he was a ballast in our newspaper “boat.”

            In the mid-1980s, Troy researched the concept of the hotel-motel tax. Local governments could levy a nightly tax on rooms rented. He suggested that I talk to the county commissioners. As a member of the industrial development authority, I did. The commissioners pounced on the previously unknown revenue stream that was funded by hotel-motel guests.

Over just the past five years, the local hotel-motel tax has brought in more than $1 million for the county and the city of Jesup combined. Imagine how much was raised over the past 40 years. Troy and his keen mind deserve the credit for helping his community. I was just his messenger.

As I told Fred, Troy was smart, very smart.

And Troy used his intellect beyond newspapers. As a second-generation beekeeper, he did more than manage his hives for honey. He became a highly respected leader and authority within the American Beekeeper Federation. When Troy spoke, the bee world listened.

            When Nathan and Sandra Deal moved into the governor’s mansion, the First Lady took some of her bee hives to West Paces Road. I sent Sandra copies of The Speedy Bee. She was elated to read Troy’s newspaper. Troy’s reputation and influence went beyond America’s boundaries.

            Following Sunday’s funeral, Roy Pattie, Felix Haynes and I talked about a way to pay tribute to Troy. We believe one idea would be to help restore the Fores’ iconic honey house in Gardi. The aging Altamaha Apiaries building—with its Ludowici Tile roof—is a treasure. Let’s honor Troy and his family by teaming together to save it.

            In the South, one of the finest compliments that we can give a man is to say, “He is a good man.” Troy Fore had:

§  A good, kind heart.

§  A good, inquisitive mind.

§  A good, strong backbone.

§  A good moral compass.

§  A good work ethic.

§  A good, wry sense of humor.

§  And a very good love of his family, his friends and his community.

Yes, indeed.

At the end of his 79 years, Troy Fore leaves a legacy of a good, good man.