Sunday, August 03, 2008
Fifty Years Later
I had the opportunity to go home Saturday night to speak at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Kiwanis Club of Taylor County. Since my dad was the first president of the club, I felt strongly that he would have wanted me to accept that special invitation.
In thinking about the legacy of this Kiwanis Club, which was originally known as the Reynolds Kiwanis Club, I began to remember some of the men that made up that club. In fact a couple of days ago I went out in our garage and found an old composite picture of the charter members. As I looked at the individual pictures of the 47 men on that composite, it dawned on me that I knew them all. And I also know their children and many of their grandchildren. To say the least, I took a walk down memory lane. And in the end I was overwhelmed with their success in life. I wish I could talk about each and every one of them here like I did last night and talk about their success and the success of their children and grandchildren but for most of the readers it would be like watching someone else’s home movies. But I will tell you a little about the group as a whole.
My first observation was that only eight of the original 47 are still alive. (Two of those eight were in the audience last night). That means 83% of the original group are dead. As I told the group last night, that means 83% of the people in the audience will be dead 50 years from now. So it is okay to quit worrying about whatever you happen to be worried about.
Incredibly, in a town with a population of 1200, the club was made up of 18 business owners. You couldn’t find 18 business owners in Reynolds now if your life depended on it. There were 9 farmers, (those who owned many acres of land and were very successful farming it), 5 supervisors from Flint EMC (a rural electric cooperative that was started in Reynolds), 3 Bankers (two of which owned multiple banks), 2 lawyers (one of which was the current Lt. Governor of the State of Georgia), 2 Doctors, 2 Company Executives, 2 Educators, 2 Ministers, a Pharmacist and a Georgia Power Manager.
As I continued to look at those 47 leaders of that community, I then began to list their children and some of their grandchildren and what they have accomplished in life. I can tell you the accomplishments are incredible. I was reminded again that I grew up at the right time and the right place. And it dawned on me that I was positively influenced greatly as a boy by the leaders of my community.
I was also reminded of the importance of clubs such as Kiwanis in local communities. The word Kiwanis means “sharing your talents.” The club was founded 50 years ago as the vehicle where the business leaders, educational leaders and religious leader came together to share their talents for the good of the community.
I fully realize that I was a beneficiary of these 47 men sharing their talents for the good of the community. And I have a lot of friends who grew up in the same community who are also beneficiaries of their investment.
I can tell you I have never been more appreciative.
Fifty years later.