March 08, 2009 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

The first time I saw Tanisha Michell Bing she was 13 years old and smiling that radiant smile of hers as she was happily receiving a Take Stock in Children scholarship.

The next and last time I saw her she was 19 years old and lying in a casket in a Live Oak funeral home.

From the day Tanisha was born, she had a happy smile and a happy heart and everybody noticed it. Her joyful personality drew people to her. She was special, blessed with being an eternal optimist.

Tanisha was one of our first students selected for the Take Stock in Children (TSIC) scholarship program. That's a program for needy students who earn their scholarship by making good grades and being a good school citizen.

Tanisha was a star in the program from the beginning. One day we had a formal congratulatory program for all the TSIC students and donors in the lobby of the former Barnett Bank.

Tanisha was selected unanimously to be the spokesperson for all the TSIC students. She made a great speech and won the hearts of all who were there. She just lit up the lobby with her smile and even bank visitors knew she was special.

Later, former Governor Jeb Bush arranged for all the state's TSIC students to assemble in Tallahassee for a special recognition program at the Capitol. A ‘Scholarship Train', an actual train, transported the TSIC students there from all around Florida.

A Sunshine TV Network crew rode the train to cover the event and they sought out one special student from all Northeast Florida to be the TSIC TV spokesperson. Sunshine Network selected Tanisha, the girl with the sunshine smile, and she gave a terrific interview.

When LCCC, the TSIC sponsor, arranged a program for their faculty to meet the students, the student all the college officials remembered best was Tanisha.

But then, in 2001, just after high school, Tanisha's young life was abruptly cut short. One night while she was driving home from her job at the "Welcome Station" on I-75 near High Springs she was killed in a car crash. You can imagine the shock and sadness felt all around.

At Tanisha's solemn funeral, several speakers shared their memories of Tanisha:

*She had a bright and endless smile, a forever smile with luminous eyes.

*She was a precocious and energetic child who gave us an example of what it means to truly live.

*She was a rare person who embodied far more than her own life. She held inside her the promise of a better life for others, like fruit bearing much seed.

*She lived her life color blind. She saw the true heart of a person, beyond race or sex or station in life.

*She lived her life based on Christian principles and ethics that never wavered.

Tanisha's mother spoke from the depths of her sadness, "I know God is always right but you have to wonder why He would take someone with so much promise, who so many loved."

Probably lots of us were wondering the same thing. But, on a hopeful closing note, Tanisha's pastor said, "We are all heartbroken today that Tanisha has left us so young, and we are painfully aware we will not see her again on this earth. However, we will always remember the person she was, and her legacy of goodness and love will never fade."

And the gathered flock all said, "Amen and amen."


The CHS Class of 1951 will be holding their next reunion on Sunday, March 22, at the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 697 S.W. Baya Drive, at 12:45 P.M. The barbecue lunch will cost $6.00 per person, payable at the door. RSVP yes or no to Ed Milton at or call 850-678-1969 and leave a message.


People in a small town would have fun with a young boy by holding out a dime and a nickel and asking him to choose one. The kid always took the nickel and one day someone asked him why. He said, " If I took the dime they'd quit giving me the nickels!" square

H. Morris Williams is a local historian and long-time Columbia County resident.