Thursday, August 7, 2008
A good man
To know Terry Sawyer was to like Terry Sawyer. He was one of Marshall County’s finest persons.
One of the great things about living in different towns since I left Alabama 22 years ago is meeting good people. Terry was one of the best I’ve met, anywhere.
First and foremost, as he told me in a 2005 interview for the newspaper’s annual Profile edition, he loved God.
“My relationship with God comes first,” Terry told me. “He has blessed me so much. Church is a big part of any small community, and I count that as a very important part of my life.”
He had his priorities in order.
He loved Byhalia United Methodist Church. He was dedicated to the work there. He taught a Sunday school class for 22 years. He was a keyboardist and vocalist with the church’s praise band “Prayznmor.”
Despite being very sick, he recently played the piano for Sunday service one last time before going to the hospital the next day.
He loved his wife Sarah Fay and his boys Scott and Anderson.
He supported Sarah’s work with the chamber of commerce. Together, they promoted Byhalia and Marshall County.
His two boys were his pride and joy.
The South Reporter and Pigeon Roost News had an office adjacent to his recently in downtown Byhalia. When I had the opportunity to “hang out” there some on Thursdays or Fridays, we’d talk a lot about Scott and Anderson and their activities. He definitely did it with a smile.
He would always seek to have his schedule worked out so he could go to Booneville or somewhere else to see Scott play baseball for Northeast Community College.
I visited with him on the football field in recent years, where he was a dedicated member of the “chain gang” and at the same time watched Anderson play football for the Marshall Academy Patriots.
He was his sons’ biggest supporter – in everything they did.
The Memphis native fell in love with Sarah, who he told me several times was “his better half,” and after being pretty easily persuaded to move back to her hometown of Byhalia, he fell in love with the small town, too.
“I am very proud of my connections here in Byhalia,” he told me. “Sarah’s roots runs deep here.”
And he was passionate about preserving Byhalia’s historic buildings and at the same time moving Byhalia forward. He was passionate about the community. That’s why he ran for alderman and that’s why he won the seat. He played a vital part in the town’s plans for progress and growth.
We talked at length about his hopes for Byhalia. He always wanted what’s best for the town and its citizens.
He loved all of his family and friends. I overheard comments from many last week. They went something like this:
“He was just a good, all-around person.”
“He was special. He will be missed.”
“Everyone liked Terry Sawyer.”
He loved his neighbors more than himself. And that’s what the Good Book teaches us to do.
During his short illness and following his death, a lot of my conversations with people have turned to Terry. The theme was common – goodness – even coming from people who did not know him personally. Terry exemplified goodness, and that goodness shined.
Knowing what I know about Terry, he would want us to proceed with making our home, Marshall County, a better place to live and raise a family.
And one of our best examples to follow, in walking that path, is the life of Terry Sawyer.
His life was cut short at age 57, but it was a full life – one filled with the things that matter most, like service to God, church, family, community and friends.
Most importantly, it was a life we can all learn something good from.
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