A salute to two Cobb men who made a difference
by Dick Yarbrough
Columnist
February 16, 2013 12:00 AM | 2014 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
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Sometimes I need to reevaluate what is really important in this world. It is not politics (sorry, intrepid public servants) or money (although a little bit of it doesn’t hurt) or power (corrupting) or glory (fleeting.) It is whether or not we did something while we were here that made the world a little better.

Dr. Henry Bohn reminded me of that recently. Dr. Bohn is a semi-retired veterinarian at the east Cobb Veterinary Clinic in Marietta and a loyal reader who thought I might do us all a favor to remember the life and good works of two local Cobb County men who passed away recently. After reading about them, I couldn’t agree more. They touched a lot of lives.

Richard Hilton is a name familiar to many of us. His east Marietta National Little League team won the 1983 Little League World Series title, the first Georgia team to do so. He died this past December at the age of 78. A coach for more than 40 years, it was said that he was still dispensing advice to his former players from his hospital room until the last.

That is what coaches do. They teach you the fundamentals of pitching and catching, punting and passing and how to dribble a basketball, or hit a tennis ball, but the good ones teach you about life and how to overcome the obstacles thrown in your path.

Dr. Bohn estimates that Richard Hilton coached close to two thousand young men over his four decades at the most formative period in their lives.

That is important but even more important is that he didn’t have to do this. This wasn’t his vocation. This was his calling. I suspect a lot of the kids he coached have lost a little off their fastball or are perhaps a step slower going from first to third these days, but I’ll bet they haven’t forgotten the life lessons he has taught them.

A few weeks before Richard Hilton died, Albert Friel passed away. He was 86. For forty years of his life, Mr. Friel was scoutmaster at Bethel United Methodist Church in east Cobb. During his time there, Troop 1011 turned out some 240 Eagle Scouts. In case you are wondering, that averages out to six per year for 40 years. Amazing. Even more amazing is that Dr. Bohn estimates perhaps more than 100 of them were at the services for Mr. Friel.

At one time in my life, I was a member of an advisory board at the U.S. Military Academy. West Point received 11 applications for every available position and the cost of educating those accepted was roughly $400,000 each.

I asked the superintendent at the academy what was a key determinant in who would make it through West Point successfully. His answer: Eagle Scouts. If young people had the character, discipline and wide range of interests that came with being an Eagle Scout, chances are they would be successful at the academy.

I don’t know if any of Albert Friel’s Eagle Scouts made it to or through West Point, but chances are they have all the tools for success as do the thousands of other young people who were a part of the scouting program at Mt. Bethel under Mr. Friel’s tutelage.

Dr. Bohn told me in his letter that he had been practicing in east Cobb for almost 40 years, and had worked with both Hilton and Friel during that time. He said their passing had left a void in the community. No doubt. But he added that many of the young men they worked with have followed in their footsteps.

Hopefully, they will share the values instilled in them by these two men to the next generation and then that generation will do the same for a future generation and on and on it will go. I suspect Richard Hilton or Albert Friel both were influenced themselves by a coach or a scoutmaster or a school teacher or a minister and felt compelled to pass along what they had learned.

It is interesting how we measure wealth in our society. Too many times it is defined by the size of our bank account or the number of possessions we have accumulated.

Yet, I don’t think many people will care about that when we are gone. What will be remembered is: Did we make a positive difference in someone’s life and is this a better world because we were in it?

If that is the case — and I believe that it is — Richard Hilton and Albert Friel were rich men, indeed. And we are richer for their having been here.

Thanks to Dr. Henry Bohn, DVM, for the reminder.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.
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