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Two deaths and a retirement
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

A few notes from my desk this week.

We said goodbye last week to Mary Louise Hulsey, who was involved in performing arts here for the past 65 years. Mary Louise was married to John Burl Hulsey, a decorated Naval aviator from World War II. His top-secret mission to destroy enemy ammunition storage remained a secret until about 35 years after the war, when it was declassified.

It was when he was home from the war that they met at First Baptist Church. Their love affair lasted for the next 61 years.

When I married into the Hulsey family in 2003, we started calling each other “cuz,” albeit distant and by marriage.

A week before she died, I visited her in a nursing facility. She wanted some grits at about 7 p.m. I made a quick trip to Waffle House and brought her back some grits. I helped her with them and it was a real blessing. It wasn’t fancy, it was just a good time. I prayed to God for her comfort and peace and it came a few days later. I’ll miss you, cuz.

The man from Mount Vernon

We also lost Wayne Colston to a battle with serious illness. I didn’t know him well, but it seemed that every time I took my dogs to Dr. Jane White, he was there with Vernon, a pup who was a retirement gift from his faculty at Mount Vernon Elementary, where he was the inaugural principal and made it an example for other elementary schools.

People who love kids and love dogs are just good people. I wish I had known Wayne better, but North Hall is a better community because of him.

The good doctor says goodbye

On a much brighter note, a veteran physician is hanging up his stethoscope this week.

Dr. Roger Owens came to Gainesville in 1976 after completing his medical internship in the U.S. Air Force. He was involved with both Northeast Georgia Medical Center and Lanier Park Hospital.

While he was beloved by his many patients, Dr. Owens led 18 medical mission trips to underserved nations. He also was associated for more than 20 years with Good News at Noon.

While he retires from his day-to-day practice, I hope that he will still have the passion to continue to give care to those who have little access to it. I have known many doctors in this community who have given their services in retirement and said it was the most rewarding thing they have ever done.

Three people who all found a way to leave their community a little better than they found it. That’s the way we all should do.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on