September 13, 2009 - The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

Some 25 years ago I asked several prominent Lake City people what brief advice they might have for that year's graduating CHS seniors. Here is what they said. A (‘D") indicates the person is deceased.

*Alethia Choice (D) - tailor, philosopher, overcomer of profound physical handicaps: "Believe in God and believe in yourself and you can achieve whatever you set as your goal. Desire it, sacrifice for it. You CAN do it. Maintain basic principles you can sink your teeth into when the going gets rough."

*A.H. Stevens, Sr. (D) - businessman, School Board member: "Starting today and throughout your life, try to make each person you meet feel better about himself or herself. That is the long and short of it."

*Charles DeVane - Businessman, co-owner Eagle Clothing Co.: "Spend a lot of time with people. With people you will find your greatest experiences and warmest memories. But when they do wrong, you must stand up for what is right. People will respect you only if you stand firmly for what you believe is right."

*Donald Kilgore (D) - Welder, metallurgist, individualist, theologian: "This above all, to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night, the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3, Line 75).

*Anita F. Blanton - Parent, scholar, and LCJHS English department chairman: "Rethink your priorities from time to time. Be sure you are devoting your life's energies to the things that are truly important to you at all times."

*Sam Thompson (D) - First black City Commissioner, church and civic leader: Think for a moment about all the people who have helped you become what you are today. Conduct yourself in a way that will make those people proud of you. Also, remember when you need advice, turn to those older people who have already traveled life's roads, and listen to what they have to say.

*Jessie Gleason (D) - County ‘Woman of the Year", walking history book, namesake of Gleason's Mall: "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things (‘the necessities of life") will be added unto you."

*Gordon Granger (D) - founder Granger Lumber Co., original sponsor Columbia Forestry School, namesake Granger dormitories at LCCC: "Live an honest and straight life. Start early in your life to live honest and straight. Live that way all your life."

*Ralph Powers (D) - founder Powers Cadillac Co., State Road Board member, personal advisor to former Governor Farris Bryant: "College is not for everyone. Everyone should constantly get more education and more training. But a four-year baccalaureate degree is not for everyone."

*F. W. (Shorty) Bedenbaugh (D) - Barber, state legislator, musician, patriot: "Listen to your Momma and Daddy just a little more than you do now."

*Don Dockery - Parent; owner, Lake City Advertiser: "Maintain your individuality in the face of the world's efforts to make you all the same. You have a singular contribution to make to this world. Only you can make it."

*Jake Bradley - Coach, community leader, former star athlete at Florida A & M University: "In all your relationships with people, be fair and be firm. Let your word be your bond. Say what you mean and mean what you say."

*Edith Purser Vass - Pharmacist, parent, church leader, county ‘Woman of the Year": "Wherever you are, conduct yourself as if you are trying to please the most important person in your life—God, your Mother, Father, children, husband, wife. Live as if you are trying to please that person."

*Kermit Horne - Businessman, entrepreneur: "If you see the future as difficult and demanding, remember that such a future also represents great opportunity for those individuals willing to tackle hard problems."

*W.K. Daugherty (D) - Consulting engineer, builder of large bridges and interstate highways: "Conduct yourself in such a way that you will like and respect the reflection you see in the mirror every morning. If that is not what life is all about, I don't know what it is."

Clearly, the wisdom of this advice would be just as true for today's high school seniors as it was 25 years ago. square

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