CORNER: “Relax, Barry. Everything is fine. We’ll see you again.”
Heaven gained a couple good Georges last week. One of them was the 41st President of the United States. The other was my good friend, George Marshall.
When I remember George Marshall, many things come to mind. Bucky’s BBQ. The Gamecocks. His laugh. His kindness. His sense of humor. His faith. Dale Earnhardt.
I was never an Earnhardt fan. And George and I disagreed politically on most things, so, we never had many discussions about racing or politics.
But, on the vast majority of things, the important things – George Marshall and Larry Franklin saw eye to eye.
Always get the ribs at Bucky’s. He’d get sweet potato crunch and pickled cucumbers. Sometimes slaw instead of cucumbers. No bread. Mostly unsweet tea with a dash of lemonade.
Next year is going to be the big one for the Gamecocks. No doubt. George will celebrate from his eternal home with the USC flag out front. God, of course, is a Gamecock, which leaves a lot of unanswered questions regarding Clemson’s recent success. I’m betting George has already grilled his heavenly father about that.
The mission of First Baptist Church, Clinton, where George and Mary were members, is “to love God and to extend His love to all people.”
Boy, did George do both of those things. He was always positive and always had a kind word. For everyone. In his eulogy for his father, Eddie Marshall said George would end conversations with “Have a blessed day.” I heard him say that countless times to people in stores.
George loved his family above everything but the Lord. As was said, he and Mary were soul mates. And I think he was just a teeny bit afraid of her. Sometimes, he would say to me, “Don’t tell Mary I said that.”
I would always respond, “I feel ya, brother.”
He loved Eddie and Lucy and Cassie and Brian with a deep, accepting love. Claire and Kate were his pride and joy. He would never, ever boast about himself (and he was a man of some accomplishment), but he was known to brag about his granddaughters. Rightfully so.
George and I, along with his brother Larry and Frankie “Porkchop” Ginn took several trips to Charlotte and surrounding towns to visit NASCAR race shops. We would always find time to eat. Several times.
The same quartet went to Shealy’s in Batesburg a few times. Again, to eat.
George and I had a number of serious conversations. Many of them after his health began to fade.
But, mostly, we had fun. We laughed. We enjoyed each others’ company. We talked about a bunch of y’all.
More than once, we’d be talking and George would call me Barry. He and Barry Whitman were close friends and they served together on the School District 56 board of trustees for many years.
“George,” I would say gently. “I’m Larry. I’m not Barry.”
“Don’t I know it,” he would say with a grin.
I’ve had two good friends die from pancreatic cancer in just over a year. That saddens me. And it makes me mad.
But I know both of them would say to me. “Relax, Barry. Everything is fine. We’ll see you again.”
(Larry Franklin is retired and lives in Clinton.)