Katy Ruth Camp and Charlie Daniels

Editor's note: This story originally ran in the June 2019 edition of Cobb Life Magazine. Charlie Daniels passed away Monday morning after suffering a stroke at the age of 83.

The summer before I turned ten years old, I was riding on my grandparents’ pontoon boat on Weiss Lake in Cherokee County, Alabama, just over the Georgia state line, as I did most of the summers of my youth. My grandfather was steering the boat, wide-brimmed boat hat flopping in the wind, while my grandmother sat with me in the back bench seat, an array of towels covering the faux leather.

The radio on the Party Barge was stubborn and often took a few knocks to get it working again, but there was always undoubtedly a country music radio station crackling through the speakers. That day, a song came on with this wild fiddle and a heart-pumping story about a boy named Johnny defeating the devil.

“Who’s that?” I asked my grandmother, in awe of the song.

“That’s Charlie Daniels,” my grandfather yelled from the captain’s seat.

That little girl who was fearless in her adventures but didn’t have the heart to hook a minnow surely had no idea then that she would one day be sitting across from that same Charlie Daniels, telling stories and marveling at not only his capacity to still perform that wild fiddle at 82 years old, but also at his incredible generosity. Our chat and his story are captured on page 32 in the feature, “Charlie Daniels went down to Georgia but left the devil behind.”

I hope when you read about the country music legend and the amazing charities he supported during his visit to Georgia in April, you’ll be inspired to also use your passions to support others.

And maybe you or your children will be sitting on a pontoon boat this summer, listening to the radio and dream a little bigger when you’re asked the question, “Who’s that?”

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