Some of my heroes.......
Last week, I had the good fortune to be among some of the best people in Greene County.
The Greene County Daily World held its inaugural “Difference Makers” awards banquet at Goose Pond Lodge & Retreat in Linton.
In the weeks and months leading up to the big night, our newsroom and staff was busy, busy, busy, with researching, interviewing and writing about these wonderful people who make Greene County the place that it is.
I remember thinking, as I was writing up the stories on the two I wrote about, James O’Malley and Joe Wise, how lucky this county is to have such people in it, and I have to wonder: Is anybody else as grateful for these folks? I hope so!
Anybody in the room that night will understand, the atmosphere was absolutely divine.
I felt so lucky to be there, surrounded by these people with such big hearts, and the families that love them.
Speaking of loving families, it gave me the warm squishies to see our ten finalists surrounded by their loving and supportive families, the looks of pride and love on their faces at seeing their loved ones applauded and appreciated.
Here in the newsroom, and in advertising, the pressroom, everywhere here really, we are all still riding the “wave of wow.” I think the love, caring, selflessness and compassion of the evening soaked in to all of us and will stay with us for awhile.
One of the Difference Makers that I had been assigned to write about was Joe Wise of Jasonville. This man, when hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, hopped into his own semi, gathered donations, and hit the road to New Orleans to help. Then he did it again. Then, when tornadoes struck Joplin, MO, he loaded up and went. When tornadoes struck in southern Indiana, he was of course there. Closer to home, Wise gathered up fellow farmers to harvest corn for a woman widowed by a farming accident in Odon. AND the man coordinates Salvation Army bell-ringers every year. Did I mention he is in his 80’s? So inspiring........
I also had occasion to meet a remarkable Linton native that I had written about once before. Larry Murdock made the paper when he returned a library book to the Margaret Cooper library that he had checked out in 1956. It was something like 21,000 days overdue, but he couldn’t carry the guilt anymore. He returned the book, paid the $400 fine, and all was hunky dory.
I spoke to the man while writing the story, and somewhere in our conversation, he mentioned traveling to Africa with a product he and a team had invented. I began to do a little research, sensing that this man had stories to tell.
What I found when I searched his name was astonishing. He and several like-minded people had worked for years at Purdue and in Cameroon, Africa, developing a food-storage technology that has quite literally saved countless lives.
Mr. Murdock and his wife were in town Wednesday to attend a funeral, and were kind enough to stop by to meet me, and gift me with a copy of a book he wrote.
This has been a week full of lessons in gratitude and humility for me, and I am humbled, and I am grateful, and I am ringing bells for the Salvation Army this winter with Joe Wise.
*Anyone interested in joining me to ring them bells may attend a meeting with Joe Wise and company at LaFiesta in Linton on Sept. 30 at 11:30 a.m. Hope to see you there :-)