Wednesday, July 15, 2009

last rites, newspaper-style

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that.
Hamlet, 5.1

Since I found out about Bill Robinson's passing on Monday, a number of fantastic tributes to the man have popped up across the Web, most of them at the O-A News site: here are eloquent columns from his colleagues, Jim Minter, Mitch Sneed and Joe McAdory. Once I'm finished updating the site at, I'll link to my own thoughts, as well Here it is.
In the meantime, the good people at The LaFayette Sun were kind enough to send along Robinson's final column, written just before the man finally shuffled loose this mortal coil (two Shakespeare references in one post = something Robinson would've adored). I don't think they'll mind me re-posting it here, just this once. Definitely check out their site for the local angle on the passing of a newspaper legend.
Editor’s Note: We lost our great friend and colleague Bill Robinson this past week. This final story was written just days before he passed. In it we get one last glimpse of the remarkable skills we have lost with Bill. He was part of our family, and we will miss him immensely.

I am HOME. Back in surroundings so familiar that the big light from the long window brings back memories that breaks your heart.
It was in this very room, some 25 years ago, that I had to inform my mother that my son, Robert, was dead from a gunshot wound to the heart. There were many happy memories of this wonderful room. My mother was a kind and gentle Victorian lady and her surroundings in this room were a mirror of her taste in furniture, clothes, and music.
I am here recuperating from open-heart surgery and many other surgeries. I nearly died four times over, but the good folks down in East Alabama Medical Center helped me through each crisis. So here I am home again. Even the music welcomed me home. The GA public radio is playing a sad song of two hundred years ago by Felis Mendelssohn ...and that is fitting.
I am facing months of rehabilitation, but at least I am on a paved road, finally.
My brother put it succinctly: he said "Bill, you felt the dark wings of death rushing heavily against you, but by the grace of God you made it through and we are happy about that and we are also thankful for it." Carmer Robinson, my brother, came down from his home in Gastonia, North Carolina.
He stayed here for weeks. So did my son, Jason, his wife Angie, and children, my daughters Scarlett, Marianna, Cecila, and Annalise. My sons; Cade, Juan, and Josh were also there beside me. They all loved me and carried me through the darkest hours of my life.
There were many friends who had me on their prayer list; Reverend Bill Jennings from Lebanon Presbyterian Church, my home church that joins Jericho Farm. There too was so many more; Reverend Wayne Barrett visited me many many times. His wife Betty, Keeper of the LaFayette Library, also visited me. Dewey Stephens, of Stroud, and his wife Marylan put my name on the prayer list at the First Baptist Church in Five Points ... and also many more in the community up and down highway 431.
And even in Roanoke, Jose, from the Mexican restaurant and another restaurant almost next door were Chris Sears and his father Tim and a host of others, like Jerry Smith and Bill Montgomery at Stephens Insurance Company and so many many more that I don't have room to name.
And to my "Second Family" down at the Lafayette Sun; Mike Hand: editor and publisher, Lisa Edge: my great friend and great confidant of many years too. And the "princess," Sherry, and Shirley the queen of Amelia Island in Florida. And then there is my great great friend Honor Lee Ellis Jr. who took me to my last hospital a year ago in Anniston for five operations on my eyes. I don't know what I'd do without Honor Ellis. And then there is the great newcomer, Chris Busby, who has done a great job running some of my new stories and some of my old yarns of yesteryear.
There are so many more to remember that if I name them all I will forget someone and that will hurt feelings... and my feelings especially. But hundreds of people came to see me, prayed for me, sent cards and gifts, and their special prayers helped bring me back from crossing the river.
Back in this old room of my mother's, I can't walk, I lay here helpless like a bug on his back on a rug, but I am so thankful to be alive. I am truly thankful to the many friends that have helped me through this crisis, especially my kinfolks. When it comes down to it the only thing important is the collective help of your friends and family because they are the only ones who truly care.
My mother died just a few weeks after Robert in a terrible car wreck in LaGrange, It happened near the old historic post office in Gabbetville, but even Gabbetville has been swept away to make room for KIA manufacturing, but time has changed and that is inevitable. West Point is on the cusp of great change and prosperity, so we must not lament the past. We must move forward with the changes of time.

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