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Oglesby: Remembering Bobo, Stuckey’s, Williams family

POSTED: April 10, 2012 1:00 a.m.

Mea culpa. I boo-booed when I wrote about friend Dennis Higgins’ death. He was a friend but has been dead a number of years. The G and H are next to each other and just as the phone rang, I hit the H instead of G. Dennis GRIFFIN was the fellow Lakewood Deacon leaving a wife and two children. Sorry.

Just before the deadline for submitting this column word came that F.E. “Gene” Bobo died. Gene was one of the first people John Jacobs introduced me to when he brought me to Gainesville in 1956. We became good friends and he helped me launch the monthly section in my Gainesville Tribune called the “Textile Tribune” by giving gift subscriptions to all his employees and advertising regularly.

Notable contributions to the community were his longtime work with the Boy Scouts and his beloved First Baptist Church.

It’s more fun writing about the living. The legislature has adjourned. Among several announcing retirement after years of honorable service were Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, the Democratic daughter of a 10-year middle Georgia Democratic congressman, and Roger Williams, the son of a legendary Hall County politician who was first a Democrat and then a Republican.

Old-timers remember the Stuckey pecan chain headquartered in Eastman. I loved their pecan logs and pralines. When I visited home in Lumber City from the University of Georgia, I would hitchhike or the folks would take me to Eastman on Sunday afternoon. The Stuckey chauffeur usually left about 2 p.m. taking Bill to his prep school in Atlanta. On the way, we’d stop at a Stuckey’s and we both stocked up on the free candies.

I’ve written about Bill Williams. His son, Roger, also retired. Bill was a Hall County commission chairman who called me into his office one day asking what I thought about his idea of appointing a governmental efficiency committee. I thought it could be useful.

He said I’d chair the committee. I told him Times’ policy prohibited my serving and didn’t mention it to anyone at the paper. About a week later, editor Bob Campbell called me into his office and, to my surprise, told me I could and should chair the committee. Johnny Vardeman would cover my beat. Bill had gone to publisher Lou Fockele and convinced him I should do it and “besides, Ted is a damned Republican and wouldn’t be a yes man for the commission.”

Thinking it would take about a year, it stretched beyond two years, and because of other obligations, I resigned.

My successor finished the work six months later. Our recommendations revamped policies, combined departments and created the basic plan on expanding water and sewer systems countywide. Bill later was elected to the legislature and served about 18 years.

I met his son, Roger, when we were sitting next to each other on a cruise ship deck on one of my Alaskan cruise tours. Asking where I was from, I told him Gainesville, Ga.

"My dad is Bill Williams from Gainesville,” he said. “Do you know him?”

Roger was then a state representative (first elected as a Democrat and later switched to Republican). He announced his retirement after this session adjourned. The Williams family did much for Hall County and Georgia.

Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion page editor of The Times. You can reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column, in its 53rd year, appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.


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