The National Society of Newspaper Columnists celebrates the day each April 18 to commemorate the life and work of columnist Ernie Pyle, a Pulitzer Prize winner who reported from both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II. He died while reporting in Okinawa.
Our Community Columnists are a diverse bunch, each with his or her own perspective on the world around us — from politics to home life and everything in between. Some share one thing in common: They don’t like beets.
Shuly Cawood. Shuly grew up in Ohio where she learned to admire her parents. Her “child” is a furry 9-year-old. Shuly snacks on bananas at home and frozen yogurt when she’s out and about. As a kid, she was a “Super Friends” fan. She loves the Vietnamese dish pho and you’ll never see her eat anything deep fried. Her biggest pet peeve? When someone can't admit that they are wrong and/or sorry.
Something few people know about Shuly:
“I would venture to guess that most people I know here don't know that I have Southern roots. My dad's side of the family is from Kentucky and Mississippi, and as I grew up, we spent many weekends and weeks in those two states. My great aunt — who was like a grandmother to me — lived in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in a haunted house (which did not scare her) and was a voracious reader. She had strong opinions, set-in-stone likes and dislikes, and a generous heart. Her life has helped teach me how to be a stronger woman.”
Larry French. Larry grew up in Pine Bluff, Ark. He’s a Bugs Bunny fan, prefers reading over other entertainment choices and loves anything Italian but won’t eat kale, beets or ketchup. His biggest pet peeve is people who slam car doors. The person he admires most is his wife Rebecca, an RN/BSN who has devoted more than two decades to helping those in need.
Something few people know about Larry:
“In 1963-64, I became the student conductor of our high school orchestra, and most recently, and perhaps somewhat bizarre, I have a cat named ‘Fraulein Wagner with the Riesling Eyes’ that watches ‘The Curse of Oak Island’ religiously on Tuesday night. Of course, there’s a story behind the cat, but we’ll leave that for another day or perhaps an upcoming column.”
Judy Garland. Judy was raised by her grandparents in Upper Gap Creek. She has three children, six grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. She loves dark chocolate and will not eat red meat. She most admires her husband. She confesses to an obsession with clothes and shoes.
Something few people know about Judy:
“The one thing that not many know about is how much I miss and yearn for my mother. She was killed in a car accident when I was 7 years old, but I have had a very happy life thanks to my husband and children.”
Kenneth D. Gough. Ken grew up in Johnson City. He and his wife have three sons and one grandson, which he says as been certified the cutest grandson ever by both sets of grandparents, so you know it’s true. As a kid, Ken loved Woody Woodpecker and Mighty Mouse. He cried when Howdy Doody went off the air. The people he admires most? Current thinkers Charles Krauthammer and Thomas Sowell, and in his personal life, his father, George Dalton Gough, and his “saint” of a wife.
Something few people know about Ken:
“My original ambition was to get a PhD in Musicology and teach music history (my special interests are the guitar and its antecedents, and the Baroque period). That ended when one of my instructors at Milligan College, who was studying for his PhD at the time, told me he had recently applied for a teaching position, only to discover that there were 500 other applicants. Since I was (at best) a so-so singer and classical guitarist, I quickly realized that music would be a good way to starve to death slowly. Engineering turned out to be a more-than-acceptable substitute, and music became an avocation rather than a vocation.”
Rebecca Horvath. Rebecca grew up in Marion, Virginia. She and her husband have three daughters, from age 16 down to almost 8. You’ll catch her snacking on kettle corn and munching on Buffalo chicken, but you’ll never see her eat a raisin. She admires her dad the most. She was a fan of “The Flintstones” as a kid, and today, she loves watching her teenager in her element, theater. Her biggest pet peeve? Bad manners of any sort.
Something few people know about Rebecca:
“I'm kind of an open book, but something that surprises people is that I was a solid athlete in my day. I was a pretty good softball player, but my high school didn't have a team back in the early 1990s, so I gave it up when I aged out of the rec league. Instead, I played tennis and ran track in high school; in college, I was on the tennis and cross country teams at a Division II school. Now, I pick up a tennis racket every once in a blue moon, but I would only run if I were being chased!”
Charles Moore. Charles enjoys jazz, guitar, Elmore Leonard, quirky news, economics, Q&A, writing, Cormac McCarthy, snarky dialogue, warm air, intelligent lectures, and good cookin'.
Something few people know about Charles:
“Nothing new here. Writing is difficult despite several e-novels and two blogs and (for me) a lot of columns. It does not come easy. It takes work for me to make sense with words. I never expected it to last this long.”
Marty Olsen. Marty Olsen grew up in West Virginia and Ohio. He has one daughter. He loathes dishonesty, loves a good book, snacks on saltines and will chow down on a good steak. He, too, won’t eat beets. As an obstetrician/gynecologist, Marty admires a great obstetrician from history, Ignaz Semmelweis. “Dr. Semmelweis discovered that bacteria caused women to die from infection after they delivered babies. He saved hundreds of thousands of women's lives and he had to take on the medical establishment of his era to do it.”
Something few people know about Marty:
“I'm sort of a jack of all trades. When I'm not working as a physician, I enjoy bicycling, photography, hiking, deer hunting, gardening and generally am reading two or three different books at any given time. Travel has been an important part in shaping my world view; I've taught at medical conferences in about a dozen countries, including 15 trips to Iraq, and my wife Natalie and I circumnavigated the Earth in 2016. These experiences have provided me with unique perspectives on the beauty, strengths and challenges for our own region in East Tennessee.”
Bill Smith. Because Bill’s father was in the Coast Guard, he grew up in several places, including Beaufort, North Carolina; Mystic, Connecticut; Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey; and finally Walterboro, South Carolina. He and his wife have one daughter, Meaghan, and a 7-year-old granddaughter, Mira Rose. Bill’s go-to snack is chips with guacamole, and his favorite food is large, just-caught, from-the-ocean shrimp. Though he will eat any food, he avoids eating beets if possible. Yogi Bear was his favorite cartoon as a child. He’s not a fan of rude drivers, and he loves live music.
Something few people know about Bill:
“I once drove a truck for a living. No, not a big rig, but a truck with a 16-foot bed (and dumping capacity) for carrying building supplies from the Wickes warehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, to construction sites nearby. In truth, I shouldn't say I did it for a living. I really did it as a way of deferring adulthood in the year after I graduated college. I will always remember the men I worked with. Most were black and older than me, so in many ways we lived in different worlds. Looking back, it was when I understood that the circumstances of their lives would always limit these good and capable men to that kind of job that I quit treating it like a youthful diversion and embraced the professional opportunities I was fortunate enough to have.”
Ed Wolff. Ed grew up in Naperville, Illinois, and between Ed and his wife, they share four children and seven grandchildren. He’ll snack on pepperoni on crackers and refuses to eat chitterlings. As a child, his favorite show was “The Lone Ranger.” Today, you’ll find Ed enjoying classical music. The person he admires most is former President Barack Obama. His biggest pet peeve? People who need to be in control.
Something few people know about Ed:
“I’m a multi-career person: Public Accounting (CPA), Banking Executive, Executive Director of symphony orchestras, ordained minister at age 59 — serving 2 churches, interim minister, mission developer.”
Jennie Young. Jennie was was born and raised on a small farm in Erwin, went to Warren Wilson College Junior College, Maryville College, and Northern Arizona University. She married an Arizona farmer and cowboy and settled on the family farm, where her working life was a mix of farming and teaching language arts skills to seventh-graders. She fondly remembers the Grand Ole Opry and radio mystery shows. She grows basil by the pound to always have a load of pesto in the freezer for toasts, pastas and veggies. The living persons she admires most are the Obamas for their decency and clarity of purpose.
Something few people know about Jennie:
“I have a five-tier worm farm about four feet behind my computer chair in our office/library room and harvest pounds and pounds of rich worm castings which do amazing things for our houseplants and vegetable garden. Happy, healthy worms are odor-free and have no desire to wander. Believe it.”
Our regular Community Voices columnists also include Bonnie Simmerman.