CLINE: Remembering the year that was

Todd Cline

Todd Cline

Writing a year-end column accomplishes a couple of things, not the least being it makes it easier to meet earlier holiday deadlines. But it's also fun looking back and being reminded of interesting people and topics from the past 12 months, memories that conjure up laughs and sometimes sadness as well.

Humor columns are always the most fun to write, but having a column also gives you a chance to honor people's memory and 2012 unfortunately offered more chances to do that. My column year started off with a tribute to J.W. Benefield, the former Gwinnett County Public Schools superintendent who was known later in life for his work as CEO of the Gwinnett County Fair Association. I credited J.W. with rekindling my interest in the county fair.

March brought the death of sportswriting legend Furman Bisher and conjured up memories of a visit I made to Furman's home along with a couple of others from the Daily Post when he began writing for our company. He looked amazing for his age -- 93 -- and it was hard not to being tricked into thinking he'd live forever. But in the end, I guess we all know better than that.

While Benefield and Bisher were very public faces, I wrote about the death of another man who wasn't so much. Although his name was. When I got word that George Morin -- a prolific letter writer to the Daily Post editorial page -- had passed away, it hit me hard even though I had never met the man in person.

But through his letters he and I became email friends and I felt a bond with him though we never met face to face. I was happy that the column received several responses from fellow readers who remembered "ol' Georgie Boy" fondly even though many disagreed with his politics. Those letters would have made the old guy proud.

I touched on many topics in 2012 from schools -- now retired Mill Creek principal Jim Markham recording a hole-in-one, Greater Atlanta Christian president David Fincher getting to present his son Matt with the STAR teacher award and local students battling it out at the annual county Spelling Bee. And I also wrote some pieces that reminded us of the goodness of people, from the many folks who supported Aimee Copeland to seeing multiple people feed a soldier at the airport to a group from BB&T who donated their time and skills to help remodel the Saltlight Center, an emergency shelter for women and children run by Family Promise.

I wrote about a couple of families who were more than interesting. Alana Greene and her Buford clan had a blog called "365 Days of Fun," while the Queen family was featured for their unique names for their children. Each child is named for a city in North Carolina, and their family tradition is to take a trip to that city when the child turns 5.

The fun thing about that column is I was reacquainted with Rea Queen, who I covered when she was a high school athlete at Central Gwinnett for, you guessed it, coming from a family with unique names. Rea has a twin named Zoe and sisters named Iara and Rhain. So her children are continuing a family tradition.

The most fun are the columns you weren't expecting. That was the case with Don Magee. I received an email from one of our advertising reps saying he had met Don while playing golf. Said the guy was known for doing push-ups. Lots of them. I was intrigued.

And after I met him, I was very glad I had. The 79-year-old averages more than 1,000 push-ups a day, which isn't surprising when you see his physique. I found out he was from my home state -- Illinois -- and we had a great time talking about things in the Land of Lincoln and comparing notes on different places and people we knew.

He said his goal with the push-ups is to inspire people, especially seniors, to exercise. As we head into the new year, it's a goal worth repeating. As for repeats, I look forward to meeting more interesting folks like Don in the coming year.

And in his honor, I make the acquaintance of a push-up or two.

Email Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.