Phragments from Phyllis: Saying goodbye to some of North Augusta’s finest

  • Posted: 4/27/2013 1:01 PM
    6/1/2013 5:51 PM

It began with the death of Frank Holmes and continued with the deaths of Mattie Franklin, David Toole, Dr. Henry Mealing and ended with the death of Jeanne McDaniel.

Frank was a familiar face at The Star. Even before I was in the office every day, I would see Frank when he stopped by to talk politics with Sam Woodring. Oh, I quickly learned that Frank’s strong point wasn’t his driving skill. I really think he was just too busy thinking about things beyond the steering wheel of his car that he wasn’t always focused on his driving. But Frank always was kind and always concerned about the state of local government. In his declining years, because he had no family, Frank’s good-heartedness was repaid by friends like Mike Osteen, Jerry Stallworth and a cadre of folks at St. Bart who helped make his last days pleasant and comfortable.

I knew Mattie Franklin first as the proofreader/receptionist at The Star. She struck me from the beginning as a self-sufficient, yet genteel Southern lady. She was an excellent proofer and very knowledgeable regarding all things North Augusta. She made my rookie years as a reporter easier, knowing she had my back. In the last few years, I would see her daughters, Doody and Miran, more than I saw Mattie, but it was comforting watching her grandchildren grow and knowing that she was out there. In fact, the last time I talked to Mattie was just before I retired last December when I wrote about Pine Heights as the House of the Week. Her mind was as sharp as ever, and she had so many memories of growing up in that home and returning to live there as an adult. In her last days, I took comfort in two things despite her grave illness, she apparently was not in a great deal of pain, so she was able to remain clear-headed and her clever, independent self at NHC Healthcare. And I also was glad that my daughter, Cat, had the opportunity to get to know Mattie while she was at NHC. Cat saw much of what I remembered of Mattie, and came to like and respect her very much. I will miss Mattie.

I knew David only through his work as the head of the North Augusta Republican Party. My impression was of a somewhat quirky guy with a great sense of humor. He worked hard and definitely was someone whose heart was in the right place. He was a kind and caring man. I did not know of his recent health issues, but, he died much too young.

Dr. Mealing was something of a legend in North Augusta. While I had never met him, I certainly was aware that he had owned Lookaway Hall before it became a bed and breakfast. Mealing’s legacy will be evident in North Augusta for years to come for a variety of reasons. When I think of him, I think of the camellias that bear his mark as a propagator. Many, many varieties bear his mark, and some are well-known in the camellia world. Lookaway still is surrounded by his gardening successes.

And last, but definitely not least, is Jeanne McDaniel. I first met her at City Council meetings, where she was a regular and was vigilant that the history that has made North Augusta what it is today should be preserved. In 2006, she wrote a history of her adopted community that shows her love for North Augusta. She wrote letters to the editor regularly and demonstrated that passion for her city. And she wrote everything including her book in longhand, never comfortable with a computer. She shared her wealth of knowledge as a volunteer at the North Augusta Chamber, and, after retiring from her career in a kindergarten class, she became the first face you’d see at CommuniGraphics and the familiar, pleasant voice on the phone if you called. In recent years, we all watched as her body rebelled against her and Parkinson’s moved in but it could not take her mind. I’m very happy that Jeanne was recognized for her local efforts by the Chamber in naming her Citizen of the Year in 2010. She certainly was deserving.

As her friend Brenda Baratto noted, “In life, we stand on the shoulders of others. Jeanne carried us by her warmth, compassion, intelligence, wit and humor, to name just a few of her merits. North Augusta is a better place because of Jeanne McDaniel.