Leila S. Case: Significant events bring celebrations

Published 11:14 pm Friday, October 5, 2018

Americus has much to offer and celebrate in October.
The investiture of Neal Weaver, Ph.D. as 11th president of Georgia Southwestern State University yesterday at the Storm Dome was also observed throughout the week with varied activities on campus and off. Weaver is a winner and asset to the university and community. We are fortunate to have him lead the GSW students on to their graduation and a successful future afterwards. We’re proud to have Weaver and his charming wife Kristi in our community, and I’m also proud we have an even dozen GSW graduates in our extended family. I’m very blessed to have been “up close and personal” to cheer each one at their graduation services.
Also celebrating a major milestone are Souther Field, now known as Jimmy Carter Regional Airport, and the Americus Rotary Club that both turn 100 this year.
I was the guest of the man-who-reads-over-my shoulder at Rotary’s Tuesday luncheon meeting and thoroughly enjoyed hearing the featured speaker, Mike Cochran of Americus who presented an extremely interesting program about the history of Souther Field.
Cochran, presently with Thrush Aircraft and retired avionics maintenance instructor at South Georgia Technical College, brought an abundance of artifacts about Souther Field that were fascinating. Souther Field was established in 1918, on property that is now part of the technical college.
Souther Field has played a large role in our community over the past century, especially during the years of World War I and World War II when it was a training base for American and British pilots. And Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly across the Atlantic in 1927, learned to fly and solo there in 1922, having bought a surplus World War I Curtiss Jenny aircraft. What an awesome history.
Souther Field celebrates its birthday Saturday, Oct. 20. Mike said a fly-in and an open house is scheduled that day at the airport and the community is encouraged to drive out and enjoy the many displays, including aircraft, and meet interesting people who will be here from here and afar.
Before lunch we enjoyed visiting with our table mates — Charlott Lundberg of Kalmar, Sweden, and Katherine Ancinez from Barrongvilla, Colombia, the two Georgia Rotary Student Program students at GSW. Please smile and say hello to them.
Elsewhere, coffee flowed freely Wednesday morning downtown at the Windsor Hotel and Café Campesino, and to borrow a tag line from a well-known coffee company, “it was good to the last drop” and last handshake.
First was a political gathering at the hotel that drew Brian Kemp supporters in his campaign for Georgia governor and then across the street at Café Campesino was the second annual Coffee with a Cop. Both events had lots of folks rising early. It was good to see old friends and meet new including countless members from all law enforcement agencies who I shook hands with individually and told them how much we appreciate their service.
Meanwhile, October bride- and groom-elect Franklin Smith and Amy Baker were guests of honor at a brunch at the home of Mike and Gaynor Cheokas last Saturday. Franklin, an Americus native, is the son of Don and Sybil Smith who were among the guests with other family members. Everyone enjoyed mixing and mingling and dining on shrimp and grits and other delicious brunch dishes.
Hosts were Bob and Susan Bruns, Jim and Jean Buchanan, the Cheokases, Thurston and Gail Clary, Jim and Vicki Covington, Steve and Mona Nelson, Lou and Candy Riccardi, Rene and Angela Smith, Steve and Jeannie Stanfield, Calvin and Ginger Starlin, and Keith and Teresa Teasley.
Meanwhile, a plethora of University of Georgia fans from Americus were in Sanford Stadium in Athens when the University of Georgia Bulldogs met the University of Tennessee team, including Jimmy Whaley, Wes and Jean Wheeler, Becky and Charles Pryor and their family, Jesse and Angie Davenport Miller, DVM, and Dr. Lou and Candy Riccardi, and daughter, Dr. Alex Riccardi and Wes Turner. Of course, the Bulldogs won big. Go Dawgs.
And welcome home to Janet Kinnebrew, Elaine Thomas, and Jarrett Hooks who were in Boston and Cape Cod this week. I look forward to hearing about their adventure.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.