Debates this past week about how past actions will determine Columbia County’s future were front and center, and very loud.
But within the past couple of weeks, our community quietly has lost several people who did much to make Columbia County the fine place that it is.
• Lt. Gen. Robert Gray, memorialized this past week, died recently in a car crash. Retired as the commanding general of Fort Gordon, in recent years Gray was chairman of the Columbia County Democratic Party.
That was a challenge likely as difficult as many Gray faced during his long service: Running a party, with no local elected standard-bearers, in a county strongly favoring the other party.
But Gray handled the task as he always did, with a mix of seriousness and good humor, dignity and perseverance. His untimely departure leaves a void for our community, and big shoes for his party to fill.
• Also passing recently was retired Air Force Col. Bob Long, a resident of Brandon Wilde.
With a passion for wildlife, Long worked to document the flora and fauna on the site to get the retirement community nationally certified as a wildlife habitat.
Sadly, he died just a few days after the community received the designation – but with his work on the project completed, he leaves a great example to follow.
• Then, this past week, Realtor Otis Crowell passed away. Columbia County’s growth could not have taken place without those in the building and realty community preparing a place for those new residents to live, and Crowell was among the best at creating the sort of human habitat that makes our community the envy of its neighbors.
Our community is saddened by the loss of these men. But it’s demonstrably a better place because they were here.