I am at a loss for words right now. Within a few days of each other, I and our community lost two wonderful souls far too soon.
First there was the loss of retired Liberty County Sheriff Deputy Danny “Cuz” Pittman. A man so filled with compassion for his fellow man and who always greeted me with a big hug.
This man served his country and served his community with integrity, respect, and honor.
It was my good buddy and sidekick, Lewis Levine who introduced me to “Cuz” and I extended my arm to shake his hand. He lightly grabbed my hand and stepped toward me and wrapped his big arms around me and said, “Come-on Cuz, this is how we say hello right here.”
Even through some of the most difficult of circumstances, Danny knew how to stay calm and comfort others.
He was approachable and kids always ran to Cuz who always knew how to keep the children engaged and entertained. We need more men like Cuz in our lives and hearts these days.
And then the sudden loss of my dear friend Joe Parker Jr.
This news hit me like a ton of bricks. When I was hired at the Courier 15 years ago, Joe was one of several staff writers the newspaper had at that time. I was hired as a receptionist. But as time went on the editor at the time asked me to cover a few items as needed and Joe took me under his wing and helped show me the ropes.
He introduced me to folks in the community and was among the many mentors who taught me the day-to-day aspects of being a journalist. We often went to lunch together and talked about every topic under the sun. Joe was inquisitive, highly intelligent, yet down to earth and a bit quirky at times and that is what we all loved about him.
He covered the news fairly and impartially and during my first few years as a writer, he would help me by reviewing my stories for grammatical errors or improper formatting.
He had impeccable proof-reading skills. He was a mentor, son, uncle, and dear friend to nearly everyone he knew, and he knew MANY people in our area.
Joe was a caregiver as well as he tended to his
mother on a daily basis. He was a compassionate man who deeply cared for his family.
Joe wanted people to be treated fairly and he was quick to cover the hard news when dealing with officials who may have strayed from serving the people and instead were serving themselves. He taught me to ask the hard questions, cross every T and dot every I.
Joe knew everyone and everything about the community. He was like my personal history book. If I had a question about who is who or what is what in Liberty County, I would either call or email Joe.
I received an email from Joe on Feb. 22. He said he wasn’t feeling well and was at a medical facility, but he planned to fight like hell if they tried to admit him to a hospital and that he would take his laptop if they did so he could still work.
I replied telling him to feel better and rest and take care of himself first. I told him to let me know if he needed anything and not worry about work, I would cover his County meeting if needed. Little did I know that email exchange and one other the following morning, informing me of a new incoming Commanding General for Fort Stewart, would be our last conversation. Once again on top of his community and his job.
When Lewis told me of Danny’s passing, I cried.
When I heard of Joe’s passing, I cried. Not just to release my own grief, but also because I knew just how big of a loss the passing of these two men would be to the community and the family these two men would leave behind.
Joe and Danny will always live on in my thoughts and in my heart. My heartfelt prayers go out to their families and all their loved ones during these difficult days.