Re Barry Paschal's Nov. 30 column about Merle Temple, "Temple still awaits pardon":
We must know two different men.
I met Temple in 1989 when we both were patients at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital. Temple had injured his back, and triggered a lifelong battle with depression and dependence on prescription medication. Even though he was in terrible pain, he was our team leader for 10 weeks in our pain management program. He encouraged everyone, and threw a party at his home in Columbia County when we were released for all patients: rich, poor, black, white.
Some of us became part of Temple's fundraising volunteers when he began to raise record amounts for the Cancer Society, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and others. His optimism was contagious.
I would like to share one story that describes the Merle Temple we knew so well. A wealthy man he knew from California played golf at the Augusta National with business associates who brought jobs to Augusta. Temple made this happen to help Augusta, and because he liked the man. The man wanted to reward him, but Temple refused.
One day, over lunch, the man gave Temple an envelope with nearly $10,000 in cash in it. To the man, it was a point of honor. Temple asked the man to ride around with him in Columbia County, and he stopped in at a board meeting of the diabetes foundation. He introduced the man, and Temple then gave the entire envelope of cash to the Atlanta representative for the JDF as a donation from his friend. The man was stunned that Temple would do this with a secret gift of "free money," but that was Merle.
He kept a friend, and JDF got another gift in honor of Temple's wife, Susan, who was sick with severe diabetes for so long.
Merle was not perfect. None of us are. But he was and is not the narrow caricature you paint, either.
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