Leila Case: Tragedy stuns this awesome ‘gingerbread city’

Published 3:45 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2016

As I walked into the newsroom at the Americus Times-Recorder long ago I recall thinking “you never know what might happen on any given day.” My job was to help bring the news of the day to the people of Americus and Sumter County and to have the facts correct. Of course there were slow days when there was no news of substance but not enough to ever be boring. I loved what I did – it wasn’t work. I suppose I have printer’s ink in my veins.
Even though I’m not an active part of the newsroom any more, I’m still a newspaper woman at heart and I suspect I always will be.
Such were my thoughts when the terrible tragedy stuck here Wednesday, when two police officers were shot, one was killed and the other critically wounded. I wanted to be on the scene and in the field with our local media and the other news people from cities near and far covering the story.
I miss the excitement and being a part of team news coverage.
Ironically, Wednesday was the date set for the “newspaper girls,” good friends for years, to gather for our annual Christmas lunch – a long time tradition when we share news of our families and exchange gifts. Unfortunately Beth Alston, the present T-R publisher and editor, couldn’t be with us – she was covering the heartbreaking story as it unfolded. But Carol Norton, dedicated T-R employee for 48 years,  Sue Hall, another faithful “newsie”  and I met at Lil’ Brothers Bistro in downtown Americus.
We enjoyed “catching up” but our conversation continued to turn to the breaking news. What a tragedy for the brave men in blue but also for the families and friends of the two officers as well as the perpetrator of this senseless crime.  Events of this kind have been occurring nationwide but it isn’t supposed to happen in our awesome “gingerbread” city of Americus.
I’m thankful it has come to an end but I think it will take a long time and constant prayers to overcome a terrible tragedy of this proportion. But we will because we are a community that is united and that cares.
Meanwhile, and on a happier subject let’s congratulate Holly Mitchell on being named the Junior Service League Volunteer of the Year for 2016 who received the honor at the league’s annual Christmas brunch last Saturday. Holly and her husband Jason Mitchell have two daughters, Hannah, 14, and Riley, 12. Dr. Patricia Fennessy, newly elected president, praised Holly, saying, “She is a wonderful lady always willing to get a job done and problem solve when an issue comes up and I think the world of her. She is a wonderful mom, wife, and friend who has a heart of gold and a laugh that is contagious.” The featured speaker at the league’s Spring Luncheon on April 22 is Gena Knox, Georgia cookbook author.
Elsewhere, Kristen Perry and Andy Gordon of Americus made a sparkling exit from their wedding reception at the historic Windsor Hotel last Saturday evening, dashing through an archway formed of wedding guests twirling brilliant, lighted sparklers. It was a brilliant reception and equally beautiful wedding ceremony at First United Methodist Church, which will be properly reported in this newspaper later. The bridal couple is very fortunate to have supportive parents, friends and an unusual number of living grandparents – they share six altogether: Joyce Perry, Leila Belle Wilson, Arlene Dixon, Mrs. Wallace Melvin Gordon, and Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Marvin Peak. Incidentally, Leila Belle, at age 96 enjoyed dancing the evening away and was even on the dance floor way after midnight. Her partner? The groom, of course.
Meanwhile on that same evening Ralph Cornwell celebrated his 70th birthday at a party that he describes as a “whale of a time” divided between a buffet supper at his home and musical entertainment at Pat’s Place, where the Georgia College Jazz Combo was “smoking hot.” Among the musicians were the Cornwell’s son, Walter Cornwell, pianist, and Steven Ledbetter of Americus, drummer.  Among the out of towners here to help Ralph celebrate were cousins and friends he says he hasn’t seen in a long time: Vicky and Robert Hunter, Fall, Davis ,Chalmers and Walker Geeke all of Dallas, Georgia; Susan, David, Rachel and Knox uHuHHuff and Dr. Mack Elrod, all of Athens; Lane Brown, Columbus; Judge Claire Cornwell Williams, Savannah; Margie and Chris McRee; Linda and Fred Turpin of Albany; Jeanine and Varnum Carney, Big Canoe; Morgan and Dave Lathan of Rockaway, N.J.; Campbell Krenson, Silver Springs, Maryland; Jane and Fred Krenson, Smyrna, and Camille Bielby of Montezuma; elsewhere James and Nancy Gaston attended the recent Georgia Farm Bureau’s state convention in Jekyll Island, where he was a delegate and she was an alternate. And smile and wish Taylor Michelle Andrews happy birthday. While downtown the other morning, I encountered former resident Fred Boyles, former superintendent at Andersonville National Historic Site. Fred retired from the National Park Service a few years ago and then went on active duty with the U.S. Navy, serving the past two years in in Korea. He officially retired last month. Fred and Debbie are dividing their time between Americus and St. Mary’s. And smile and say “hello” to Terry Holland of Macon, who has bought a vacation home on Harrold Avenue and plans to divide his time between here, Macon, Franklin, N.C. and Beaufort, S.C.

– Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.