Grovetown Department of Public Safety Chief Al Robinson recognized my dilemma as I tried to craft Robert Eastman's story last week.
"It'd be hard to write a story about him," he said. "Because there's just so much."
There is, indeed. And there were nuggets I left out of the Feb. 10 feature that ran on our front page.
Eastman emigrated from the West Indies in 1973 to New York's tough Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, an area that in the 1960-70s was the site of gang violence and race riots.
During the day, everything appeared normal, Eastman said. At night, he didn't leave the house.
Eastman said he hated New York and that he wanted to return to Trinidad. His parents would not allow it.
Leonard Charles and Yvonne Charles wanted their son to make a life for himself in America. Leonard, an engineer, became an American citizen in Puerto Rico and now lives in Trinidad. He's 92.
Yvonne died in 1991. She worked in the laundry room at a Washington, D.C., hotel and ensured all six of her children -- Eastman and five sisters -- attained citizenship and bachelor's degrees.
Eastman, who started the summer running program for Grovetown's youth, came from an athletic background. His uncle, Rodney Wilkes, was a weight lifter who won a silver medal in the 1948 Olympics and a bronze in 1952. A former classmate became Trinidad's first gold medal winner.
Eastman raced bicycles for 16 years and tried out twice for Trinidad's Olympic team before he left the country. He spent a year in New York before deciding to join the U.S. Army.
He served 24 years before retiring to Grovetown in 1997.
Now, Eastman makes sure each of his young runners receives a medal, each engraved with their name.
"At the end of the day, everybody walks away with a smile on their face, because everybody has a medal," Eastman said.
More on Grooms
Popular consensus last week following Jody Grooms announcement he was leaving Lakeside was that members of his staff were packing, too.
But Grooms, speaking in an almost empty auditorium after telling his players he was leaving, left the possibility open that one or more of his assistants would be pursuing the position he has vacated.
"This is a good situation for someone to get their start," Grooms said.
That could include Jarrett Troxler, a young assistant with aspirations of becoming a head coach. He has followed Grooms at previous stops and would not comment Wednesday on his future. Another option might be Lakeside offensive line coach Phillip Johnson, another up-and-comer.
From the 15-minute conversation with print reporters, it sounded like these were what he offered as the final word on his departure:
"I've probably learned more these three years at Lakeside High School about effective leadership, about decision making, about empowering people, trusting than I've learned in 14 years," Grooms said. "This has been a great experience. I'm going to miss everything."
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