My friendship with Judge Nix began when I started opining on these pages some years ago. I had known of him for a number of years when he was a member of the Georgia House of Representatives and was chairman of the Cobb County legislative delegation and later as a state court judge before being appointed to the Cobb Superior Court by Gov. Zell Miller in 1995.
Even though he is an Emory graduate, the judge is an unrepentant and unapologetic Georgia Tech fan. I, of course, am sometimes rumored to be slightly partial to the University of Georgia, the oldest-state chartered university in the nation, located in Athens, the Classic City of the South. We have enjoyed good-natured gibes back and forth over the years about our respective allegiances. Besides, what fun would it be to twit Emory? They would probably threaten to hold a sit-in or a hug-in in my sock drawer. Emory is not known for having much of a sense of humor.
While we hold differing views on Bulldogs and Yellow Jackets, we both share a strong love for Dr. Gil Watson, the World’s Greatest Preacher. I love Dr. Gil even though he spends every Sunday preaching to the congregation about my sins. Dr. Gil claims he is not singling me out, but just to be sure I always slide down in my pew so I can be as inconspicuous as possible.
Judge Nix takes great pride in having taught Gil Watson in Sunday School some 50 years ago and watching him grow from an outstanding scholar-athlete at West Fulton High School to his current position as the World’s Greatest Preacher. He did his job well and Dr. Gil hasn’t forgotten. He called the judge at home the other evening and told him, “I don’t believe I would be the preacher I am today if not for your influence.” That is nice to hear anytime but particularly when you are fighting for your life and knowing you have Dr. Gil Watson in your corner.
God really likes Dr.Gil.
Nothing means more in troubled times than to know that others care about you. As Ken Nix enters into this critical phase in his fight against pancreatic cancer, you can wish him well by leaving him a note at Caringbridge.com. I went to “Sites” and had to type in “Kennix” as one word. Maybe there is an easier way, but it worked for me. I suspect it will work for you, too. The main thing is to let him hear from you.
Get well, Judge Nix. We have an athletic competition coming up in our state on Nov. 24 between your future road builders and our future Rhodes Scholars. I will expect you to be on top of your game.
Now, to another matter: You read this week that current Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee lambasted his runoff opponent, former Chairman Bill Byrne, for his part in defending the “family values” resolution — a thinly-veiled anti-gay measure created by then-Commissioner Gordon Wysong — that cost Cobb County a preliminary volleyball venue and probably three other gold medal events as well.
I was the principal contact between the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and Byrne during that controversy and had a hand in the decision to move the venue to Athens. Lee is correct for the most part. Bill Byrne could have done more to find a way out of the mess, had he chosen to do so. My personal opinion is that he thought he might have an issue so popular with the public that it would boost his political fortunes statewide. If that was the case, he severely misjudged.
However, before you start throwing stones at Mr. Byrne, you might want to save a few for other posturing local politicians who brayed continuously that they didn’t care if the venues came or went from Cobb County, giving new meaning to the term “local yokel.” Also, keep a few rocks back to hurl at mean-spirited preachers in the county whose anti-gay rhetoric fanned the flames.
The debacle was not Cobb County’s finest moment but don’t put all the blame on Bill Byrne. There is more than enough to go around.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at email@example.com or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.