Columnist: They leave their footprint when they’re gone

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rich Simpson

Contributing columnist

They’re here for a period of time, they leave their footprint, then they’re gone. We are left with the memories. And we’ll miss them.

Nancy and Ronald Reagan

I am writing this column on the day of Nancy Reagan’s funeral. A funeral that she planned — in detail.

She was a planner. And she used her organizational skills in the Reagan White House. She, also offered advice to her husband on many occasions and topics.

President Reagan offered solid, inspirational leadership. He had a ready smile and a quick wit, which was an endearing quality.

He stood at the base of the Berlin Wall and uttered his iconic ” Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” statement in his speech. The wall came down.

No one will ever forget Nancy Reagan laying her hands on her husband’s coffin for a final farewell at his funeral in 2004 — the bewildered look on her face.

Now they are together again, taking walks and holding hands.

They brought style and grace to the White House, and our nation was the better for it.

They made their contribution to society, and now they’re gone.

Pat Conroy

I’ll start off with superior wordsmith, who happened to be a genius. I’ll add a few more words: iconic author, Southern figure, dreamer, nice guy, witty and survivor. He was a novelist extraordinaire who loved his low country with a passion! He was Beaufort, South Carolina’s favorite son.

I am grateful that he was a survivor, but I hate, with a passion, what he had to go through to survive.

Pat Conroy, author of “The Great Santini” and “The Prince of Tides,” will no longer offer up best selling, thinly fictional novels, a source of entertainment and diversion for his many fans.

He had a brutal childhood at the hands of his Marine Corps fighter pilot father, who beat his wife and, ironically, to instill discipline, drilled his seven children. He also abused his sons.

His mother, Peg, used to read “Gone With The Wind” to Pat at bedtime. She taught her children to cover up their father’s abuse.

Pat used his experiences as a child and young man in his novels and memoirs. His words and descriptions were honest and emotional. He spoke from his heart, one of the many qualities that made his books best sellers.

Janette Wilkerson:

“I was a little insulted by Pat Conroy a couple of years ago. It seemed as though he missed the low country of his childhood and that he was not very pleased about all those folks moving into Sun City Hilton Head and causing all that growth that big developments bring to the area. We happen to live in Sun City, pay taxes to improve Beaufort County, volunteer in the schools, help with the homeless through Family Promise, and do many local mission projects through our church. What is there not to love about us? I wanted to tell Mr. Conroy that he should not live in the past. But wait, why do I have my radio set on a ’50s station, why do I enjoy FB posts reminding me of my high school days at LHS, and how dare they tear down Mansours? Why do I drive by Fair Street every time I am in LaGrange and moan about “my” house. Yes, even good change tears at the strings of our hearts. Thank you, Mr. Conroy, for your love of the low country that I now call home. I hope that we who live here now will bring as much love of the low country to the world and always protect its beauty as you did in your books.”

He made his contribution to society.

And now he’s gone.

Dick and Ethel Simpson

My parents provided me and my brother, Rusty, with all the love the two of us needed.

If you start your life with the knowledge that you’re loved and cared for, it sets the stage for good things to come.

The memories of the cookouts, ball games, trips and general good times will be with me forever!

They both served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. They were part of the greatest generation, “That helped save the world.”

Years later, they were “grandparents” to little kids on their street, who thought they were special. Because they were!

Both of my parents died in the month of March, 19 years apart. Dad went to heaven to find a home 20 years ago. On March 12, last year, Mom took a one-way flight to heaven to catch up with Dad.

Their favorite song, made famous by The Andrews Sisters, was “Apple Blossom Time.”

“I’ll be with you in apple blossom time,

I’ll be with you to change your name to mine,

One day in May, I’ll come and say

Happy the bride that the sun shines on today

What a wonderful wedding there will be

What a wonderful day for you and me

Church bells will chime

You will be mine

In Apple blossom time”

We cherish the memories of those that made us feel good.

That’s what we do — when they’re gone.

Rich Simpson is a former LaGrange resident and a LaGrange High graduate who worked 42 years in radio. He may be reached at