“This has been a very difficult week for me. I actually didn’t know E.W. that well. But I grew to love him because so many of you loved him first. Nevertheless, his passing has left a noticeable emptiness for me.
“In the movie ‘The Big Chill,’ the minister conducting the funeral says, “Are not the satisfactions of being a good man among our common men great enough to sustain us anymore?’”
“E.W. Chastain fit that quote as well as anyone I’ve ever known. He was definitely a good man.
“But the feelings for me this week go deeper. I moved here in 1984 and not long after that my Dad had the first of several strokes. Over the next few years his health continued to decline until, at last, he was gone.
“During that time, Melinda and I started attending First Presbyterian. Around the coffee table on Sundays, I would find a collection of older gentlemen talking and picking at each other. I didn’t know their names and tried to not interrupt, but they would invite me in and welcome me to church.
“Later, when I started the business, I joined the Marietta Rotary Club. And there I found them again, but now with name badges. Their names were Bill Bullard, Ted Bogle, Ed Holliday, Jigger Hancock and Joe Kelly. There were others I met, not in Rotary, like George Varella and Gene Gregory.
“Many of these men went overseas during World War II and came back to start families and businesses.
“But they did much more. Bill Bullard was a chairman of the Chamber of Commerce. Ed Holliday was chairman of the local hospital board. Ted Bogle chaired Cobb Landmarks and helped countless people through his ownership of Cobb Hardware.
“These men were great fathers and husbands. They were leaders who worked repeatedly to make Cobb what it is today. The greatest place to live, work and play you can find anywhere.
“But now they are all gone, too.
“I don’t bring this up to eulogize E.W. That was done very well yesterday.
“But I do hope that those of us in our 40s and 50s are doing all we can to continue to make this great community a better place for our kids and those that follow.
“One day, perhaps 30 years from now, I hope that someone will stand here and talk about one of you with the same love and reverence that we so deservedly lavished on E.W. this week.”