The South Reporter is a family and last week we lost one of our members. Claude Vinson died at the age of 81.
Claude retired from writing his weekly “Behind The Scoreboard” column and covering ball games about two and a half years ago.
But up until his sickness, he still visited, particularly on Wednesdays when it came time to do his weekly newspaper delivery route around town that he didn’t want to give up.
Claude was a man of many talents. I don’t know if I’d ever been around anyone as knowledgeable as he was on lots of topics. He was really smart.
He wrote with a flare. He’d send his articles into the newspaper office from home, and they’d always include a word or two that staff members here had either never heard of or for sure didn’t know the meaning of. We’d often dig out the dictionary, and then simply say, “That’s Claude.”
His vocabulary was vast.
When I moved here in 2001, Claude was one of several staff members I inherited. Most of those are still with me.
He was the sports editor of the newspaper for 22 years before stepping away in November 2015.
I learned quickly that Claude had a different writing style than most writers who had worked with me in the past. And he had a different style than what I learned in journalism school. But I’ve always made it a habit, as editor, not to change everybody’s writings to be like my own.
On occasion, I did alter Claude’s articles a bit, but he never said a word. I believe we complemented each other well when it came to putting out top-notch, award-winning sports pages. And after his retirement, I greatly missed his partnership.
Claude did a lot of other things at the newspaper, too.
For years, he drove a van and ran the newspaper delivery route from Potts Camp, to Hickory Flat, to Ashland and along Highway 72.
He also had a personal route here in Holly Springs – delivering newspapers to folks around town and still today we’re not even sure who all was on that list. We do know they trusted and appreciated Claude for going beyond the call of duty.
And that was Claude – always doing more than was expected of him.
He loved to cook. And regularly he’d either bring us something tasty he’d grilled or he’d just bring the grill to the newspaper office and cook here.
I saw mayor Kelvin Buck and alderman Christy Owens last week after Claude’s passing, and they talked about the cookouts he often hosted at his house for political candidates.
Claude liked politics. He liked to attend board meetings. He liked to give his input. But I’ve always appreciated more those who speak their minds and give their opinions rather than those who remain silent on issues.
Claude was a construction guru, too. He helped me on some projects at my house.
He served our country in the U.S. Air Force with a long career. He loved the United States of America. His love for country was a part of his fabric as a special man.
He loved his church – St. Joseph Catholic.
He loved his family.
I could go on and on about my love and respect for Claude. I’m just blessed that I had the opportunity to move here 17 years ago and get to know him.