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Friends to Follow

Dr. Kemp Mabry, guest columnist

First memories of Boro

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    In 1951, I arrived in Statesboro to serve as district YMCA secretary for 32 Southeast Georgia counties. Dr. Zach S. Henderson, then president of Georgia
Teachers College (now GSU) was chairman of my District Committee.
    On my first trip to Statesboro, I came to Statesboro on U.S. 80. I stopped to inquire how much farther it was to Statesboro.
    The man replied, “Eight miles back the way you came!” I had come through the edge of Statesboro without knowing it was Statesboro!
    After my interview with Dr. Henderson, I spoke with Mrs. J.F. (Patsy) Darley about renting a room. At that time she did not have a room with a private bath. Little did I know that eight years later she would be my mother-in-law!
    I rented a room and private bath from Dr. and Mrs. Fielding Russell. They had four children: Fielding Russell Jr., who was a young Presbyterian minister; William, a Statesboro High School student; Little Dick Russell (named for his uncle, U.S. Senator Richard  Russell; and Little Virginia, named for her mother.
    On my first evening in my new home, Little Dick, age 8, came around to give me some advice. “Don’t say anything bad about anybody. They are all kin to each other,” he said.
    Dr. Russell was chairman of the English Department at Georgia Teachers College, popularly known as “TC.”
    Dr. Russell was a true scholar. I had been a reader most of my life.
    I had a degree from Georgia Tech (no small accomplishment, I thought) but I was not yet in the same league as Dr. Fielding Russell.
    It took three more college and university degrees before I began to be seen as a scholar in my field.
    The first year of what has become GSU we had a District A & M School. Then we had South Georgia Teachers College, Georgia Teachers College (TC), Georgia Southern College and finally Georgia Southern University.
    From 1951 to the present, I have had some association with the last three named institutions of higher education in Statesboro.
    Next week: Miss Mae Michael and me.
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