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CLINE: Looking back on a year's worth of interesting Gwinnett people

I'm a sucker for the year-end lists that permeate newspapers, magazines and Web sites during the final week of each year. I enjoy reviewing the stories, checking out the rankings and being reminded of some events I had forgotten.

A year is a long time, so I'm always surprised by some of the flashbacks and enjoy being reminded of interesting people and stories. At this time of year I like to do the same thing with my own work, going back through a year's worth a columns to remember the people and things I wrote about.

One of the best parts about this business is the people you meet, a divergent bunch that runs the gamut in age and accomplishment. Young or old, funny or sad, they all had a story to tell.

The youngest I wrote about was 12-year-old Brady Narey, who gave his dad a Father's Day gift he won't soon forget. Playing at The Chimneys course in Winder, Narey sank a hole-in-one while playing with his dad Dan during a Father's Day outing. No gift receipt needed for that one.

I wondered what working as a knight was like and found out by talking to Clint Mally, a Mill Creek High graduate who worked at Medieval Times. Turns out his background as a wrestler and track athlete paid off in earning the physically demanding job, and his theater background didn't hurt either.

On the personal side, writing about new Gwinnett Braves radio broadcaster Judd Hickinbotham was a lot of fun. I had previously worked with him and always thought he was a good guy. For him to get a break and be able to call Class AAA baseball in his home county (he graduated from Parkview) was a great story and I was happy to convey it.

Some of the most interesting columns come when you have no preconceptions, so I enjoyed talking to Barbara T. Huffman, a minister who offered free job counseling. After the column ran I received an e-mail from a reader telling me how thankful he was for the service in such a tough economy.

Another one that stands out was a talk with Paul Moore, whose family was helped by the Red Cross after losing their house to a fire. Though he had never met me, Moore was as easy to talk to as anyone I'd ever met and so thankful for the help he received.

The saddest piece I wrote during 2009 was a tribute to former Collins Hill High football coach Alan Fahring after a long battle with cancer. Simply put: he was one of the good guys. And as sad as the story was to write, I was glad to be able to share some memories of the coach with you.

As we ring in the new year, I likely won't get a hole-in-one, joust at Medieval Times or make the radio call for the Gwinnett Braves, but I'll continue to enjoy writing about the people who do.

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.