On June 9, the city of Perry and Houston County recognized yet another of my heroes when the Perry Public Safety Department conducted its official grand opening of a new training center. My wife and I were privileged to be invited by the Perry Public Safety Department to attend this momentous occasion.
Once in a while, a person who stands head and shoulders above the multitudes comes down the path of excellence. I have been privileged to be present when several of those persons were recognized. This was no exception.
While all of the hullabaloo was going on, I was wishing that this training center would, at some point, be named for Perry Police Chief George Potter. One of my heroes, Houston County Sheriff Cullen Talton, a speaker on the program, in his remarks recommended that the training center be named for Chief Potter.
Then Perry Mayor Jimmy Faircloth read in his remarks a resolution from the Perry City Council, naming the center The George A. Potter Training Facility. It is a good thing that I did not have to speak to anyone at this point as I was overwhelmed with emotion -- talk about a prayer being answered. Another deserving hero has been recognized.
During my years on this Earth, I have been privileged to have met a few heroes, a large portion of them in Houston County. The names are the Whos Who of those who make our county the greatest in the state: Cullen Talton, Tommy Stalnaker, Robbie Dunbar, Jimmy Faircloth, John Harley, George Nunn, Bill Phelps, Joel Gray, Jimmy Williams, Barry Holland, Steve Engle, Tim Andrews, Travis McLendon, Jean Passmore, Laura Lowen, Billy Rape, Alan Everidge, James Buck, Ron Grace, Mark Kushinka, Lee Gilmour, Jeff Chandler, Rebecca Tidings, Annie Warren -- the list goes on and on. George Potter has taken a much deserved place on the list of heroes.
Many people, in addition to those mentioned above, have had significant impact on my life -- to name them all is impossible in this short column; to leave out a particular few would be a transgression. Perhaps the most influential on the life of a youngster growing up in the 40s and 50s was my mother, Addie Walton Wood, who taught me right from wrong, honesty, integrity and respect. Mr. E. H. Cheek, who recently passed from this life, was one of my teachers in the Perry school system, and his influence was instrumental in pointing me in the right direction. Some of my readers will remember these two people, others arent so fortunate.
After my wife and I were married in 1965, I learned more from my father-in-law, Kelly Hammock, than from any person on the face of the Earth. I can say unequivocally that he was one of the smartest men I have ever known. I dont know what he saw in me, but he readily confided his personal thoughts and convictions to me. The moments and thoughts we shared while fishing together were priceless, and I will treasure them forever for I know that he never shared them with any other person. I learned that Kelly Hammocks perception of a person closely paralleled my own. After all, he was the father of my wife and he introduced me to Cullen Talton and Tommy Stalnaker; they dont come any better than those four folks.
One other person deserves recognition in a column naming heroes and heroines: That person is retired Adm. Red Best, U.S. Navy, who was my commanding officer when I retired from the Navy in 1985. My job during his tenure was security and policing of the Naval Air Station at Key West, Fla. The decisions I made and the actions I took in executing my duties could have ended his career in a matter of minutes had they been wrong, yet he never once waived the trust and confidence he placed in me and my abilities. During those years that I served in his command, we shared discussions and thoughts on many delicate situations, some I suspect because he knew that what he shared with me would go no further. He is without a doubt the best naval officer with whom I ever served, a true hero among heroes whose friendship I will cherish for life.
The list of heroes has no end.
Walton Wood lives in Kathleen. Contact him at email@example.com.