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Jimmy Darsey made an impact on me
Mike Riddle OPINION
Mike Riddle

Since assuming the role as a county commissioner for Long County in January and presiding as that board’s chairman, I haven’t had much time to do any writing.

However, with the recent passing of a friend, I made some time. Tuesday, I attended the funeral of Jimmy Darsey. For those of you who did not know Jimmy, he was a Hinesville native who worked in several areas from social work to teaching. In recent years, as Jimmy had grown a little older and began facing a health issues, he had become a regular contributor to the blog site for the online edition of the Coastal Courier.

Those few talented and well-informed writers at this site knew him as “Jimmy Mack.” On more than one occasion Jimmy ruffled a few feathers at the site and at one time or another, due to an extreme comment or two, he was banned from posting.

But as with most wounds, after a little time of healing Jimmy was allowed to once again begin stirring things up.

My relationship with Jimmy began back in the mid-’90s when he and I, and another local writer named John Thompson, began writing columns for the Courier. I offered, as most of you would guess, the conservative Republican view. John offered a humor piece with a slant of conservatism and Jimmy offered the leftist Democratic view.

For about five years the three of us regularly submitted our opinions to the Courier, and we all took beatings on a regular basis via letters to the editors and a new venue in the paper called Sound off. Many didn’t just disagree with us, some hated, despised and even threatened us on occasion.

But I can honestly say, and I’m sure those few employees who were with the Courier during this time, and who are still employed, would agree, that for those years there was interest in the Courier. Readers couldn’t wait to pick up one of the papers to see who we had ticked off that week.

For me, my views were mainstream for our country and our area during that time. Remember this was the mid-’90s, and many of the values and ideals that are (sadly) now accepted were not accepted. Jimmy, on the other hand, took regular beatings because his views were not as mainstream as they are today. With the two of us on a regular basis spouting differing opinions on homosexuality, affirmative action, abortion, and other emotional issues, most readers in the community thought we hated each other. But as I told many a supporter, that was far from the truth. Jimmy and I liked and respected each other. We understood that it took courage to write what we did, and to be willing to put our picture and our name next to that opinion. I’m sad that more people and leaders today aren’t willing to look at those who disagree with them.

One of the biggest compliments I ever received was from Jimmy. Last year when I was running for the commissioner’s seat, Jimmy sent me a note of support. He said that if he lived in Long County, the election would be a first for him since I am a Republican. “Mike this election would be the first time I ever had a split ticket, I’m going to be voting for Hillary to be president, but I would be voting for you to be my commissioner, because I know you would do the right thing.”

Jimmy, I know you would do the right thing too, I will miss you my friend.

Please pray for Jimmy’s surviving wife Carolyn, his sons, and the other members of his family.

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