Many places that have touched my life are no longer there. But they are still important to me and many of you who read this.
But sometimes I feel the need to write about the living. Like I have said before, I don’t choose the column, it chooses me.
Each year, the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce gives out the most prestigious award for Citizen of the Year in Cherokee County. The recipient is always someone who has contributed greatly to the community as a whole.
In 2012, the award was given to Mrs. JoEllen Wilson. JoEllen is married to John Wilson and they have two sons, Jimmy and Johnny.
JoEllen serves as vice president for advancement at Reinhardt University. Anyone who knows her knows that she has raised a lot of money for Reinhardt throughout the years.
She has participated in many civic organizations in the county doing her part and then some to make this county a better place. And she does it with a smile.
But for all of the charity work she and John have performed in the community, that is not their greatest accomplishment by far. No, their greatest accomplishment is the job they did and continue to do in raising their sons to be good people.
I don’t know Johnny near as well as I know Jimmy. I spend a lot of time on the golf course — although not as much as I would like. This affords me to spend many Saturdays and Sundays with Jimmy.
If you really want to get to know someone, there is not a better place to get to know them than on the golf course.
It hasn’t been that many months ago that I lived through a low point in my life.
I am no different than any of you. We all have those low points. It’s how we overcome them that define us.
One day, after a round of golf, a bunch of us guys were sitting on the porch at the club talking. Jimmy was among the group. Jimmy is somewhat of a quiet guy and doesn’t say much. And on that day neither was I.
I finally decided I had listened to enough talk and got up to put my clubs in the locker and go home.
As I opened the door to the locker room I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. I turned around and it was Jimmy.
He looked at me and said, “I just want you to know that I am thinking about you.” He then turned and went his own way.
As I said before, he is a man of few words. But his words counted.
Like any sport, even in golf, you will find a certain amount of cockiness. You won’t find that with Jimmy or Johnny. They are sportsmen.
They know how to win as well as lose. And good winners are hard to come by. It’s even harder to find a good loser. But they are both.
In many ways my life has been an open book to the public. I don’t say that because I am bragging about it. I say it because I wish it had not been that way.
Everyone makes mistakes, but it seems that mine have always been the kind many people enjoy talking about.
But let me say this. John and JoEllen Wilson have always been kind to me and have never treated me any way but kind. They have never made me feel judged or bad because of my imperfections. They have treated me like a friend.
To some, this may not seem like a big deal. But it is. If you have ever felt ostracized in this world then you know what I am talking about.
The Wilson family as a whole are gems and I have never seen them mistreat anyone.
JoEllen, you are Cherokee County’s First Citizen because of your civic contributions. But it’s the love you instilled in your family that truly separates you from so many people.
The joy you bring to a room when you walk in is infectious.
But most importantly, your love for people will easily be Jimmy and Johnny’s greatest inheritance.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.