At issue with perfection

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2013

May 15, 2013

There are a small handful of influential movers and shakers who are the founding fathers and mothers of the now 43-mile (and growing into downtown Hattiesburg) Longleaf Trace. The path that winds through the Piney Woods attracts visitors from all over the US and the world.

At a memorial service on Saturday, Bobby Garraway was remembered for many achievements among which was his contribution to the creation of the Trace.

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Describing the man who was Bobby Garraway, the minister paused at one point then said, “He was an imperfect man,” adding another long pause.

I loved hearing that as I don’t get on with the perfect people so well. We have nothing in common, me and the perfect people,  but the imperfect I totally get. (They, whoever they are, say that the average executive makes approximately ten decisions a day and that maybe four of them are right.)             To acknowledge that Bobby Garraway was imperfect was to understand that he tried, failed, tried again, succeeded, a typical life of successful people.  What remains at the memorial service of one’s life is the remembrance of the little gems of success.

Once precious gem in the life of Bobby Garraway was his help in creating the Longleaf Trace.

Former US House of Rep. Ronnie Shows was in attendance on Saturday and he reminisced about a day when he and former Mayor Buford Blount and Bobby were standing around at King Lumber discussing the small window of time they had to secure the right-of-way to the railroad. In his gruff and dictatorial manner, Bobby told Ronnie to “get it done!”

After Saturday’s memorial service, I went to Faler Park and changed into running clothes and went for a jog through town and through what is arguably the prettiest part of the Trace, the canopy of trees behind the old Faler mansion. A light rain was falling and I imagined Bobby riding along beside me on his bicycle, that gliding thing he rode that didn’t make him work so hard, but allowed him in his late years to enjoy the Trace. He loved being out there.

Back at the park, a pack of cyclists were taking a rest beside the wreath that had been placed in the park by the Board of Aldermen. They paid little attention to the flowers, the freshly manicured and mulched grounds. But their very presence was honor enough to a man who strived to create a place where one can go to be alone in nature, close to God.

An imperfect man who helped to create the perfect ideal…thanks Bobby Garraway.