Madison County Opinion...

May 08, 2002

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
May 08, 2002

Frankly Speaking

Remembering NE Ga’s best known voice
Northeast Georgia lost its best known voice Monday with the death of H. Randolph Holder at the age of 85.
Those of you who recently arrived in the area will not be familiar with that name, but those of us who have been here many years will remember that deep voice opening the morning news with “It’s a lovely day to be in Athens,” no matter what the weather report said.
Holder was a World War II prisoner of war in Europe. He was the long time owner of WGAU and WNGC in Athens. He worked tirelessly for civic causes throughout Northeast Georgia.
I cannot remember a time when H. Randolph Holder was not a part of my life. As a child, before we had TV, it was his voice that greeted me every morning on the radio. As a small businessman in Athens, and later in Madison County, I had frequent contact with him and his family.
A favorite story about Mr. Holder was the time he fired country legend Bill Anderson for playing country music on WGAU. Holder was not a fan of country music. But to demonstrate his loyalty to those around him, he arranged for Anderson to join the staff of newly established WJJC in Commerce. He also stripped his record library of country records to send to the new station.
Later, when he decided to split WGAU FM away and convert it to WNGC, he had few country records to play. I had a number of albums that he borrowed until his library could be replenished. And yes, they were all returned, with a couple of extras.
One of my prized possessions is an autographed copy of Holder’s book “Escape to Russia,” based on his diary as a prisoner of war in Poland. The book was privately printed in limited numbers in Athens. He was captured early in the African Campaign and held in the German POW camp for the greater part of the war. As the Russian army approached, the German guards marched the prisoners away, attempting to reach a safer prison. The prisoners were eventually abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Holder and several others managed to make their way to Russian lines where they were eventually returned to American hands.
Holder later gained national attention when a bundle of his letters to his bride were recovered in an attic in Poland and delivered many years after the war was over.
H. Randolph Holder will be missed. But his favorite saying will live on in the hearts of those who loved and respected him.
“Keep smiling until ten o’clock — and the rest of the day will take care of itself.”
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

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By Phillip Bond Sartain
The Madison County Journal
May 08, 2002

The Lawyer's Side

The right equipment
For Christmas several years ago, my Mother gave my brothers and I each a coloring book and a box of crayons. To hear her tell it, she searched for a long time to find just these gifts. And when the wrapping paper was finally torn away, she laughed and laughed at her boys, and the three of us, grown men all, laughed back.
I have to give Mother credit, she spared no expense in regards to her private joke, springing for the box of 24 “Brilliant Colors”. Even at the age of forty something, there is something irresistible, and timeless, about a box of unused crayons.
I’ve never used my crayons. My reticence has less to do with embarrassment, and more to do with wanting to keep my crayons intact, for future use. And I guess that has to do with wanting to keep my memories intact, not broken, or wasted, or tattered and used up. In reality, Mother did not give us a gift of crayons, she gave us a memory, and in the process, gave herself one, too.
Growing up, my family and I had more than most and less than some. In our neighborhood, all of the kids attended the same local grammar school. And we all had the same standard school supplies, always listed in the newspaper for incoming pupils: pencils, BlueHorse Tablets, erasers, rulers, and a box of eight crayons.
But in each class, there was always one student with a box of twenty-four or forty-eight crayons, enough different colors to recreate the Sistine Chapel if some inspired six-year-old so chose. But since the minimum required was only eight, that was what I usually carried to school.
Naturally, I envied those schoolmates who lugged about the giant mega-box of crayons. Those huge cartons of crayons had different compartments, a little index system, and a sharpener attached to the side. And in the minds of those who only had eight colors to work with, nothing would do in the place of exotic colors like peach or jungle green or violet red. It seemed that the pictures never were as sharp or vivid without such shades.
I don’t recall that I ever complained to my Mother about not having a bigger box of crayons, but most likely I did. As a child, I know I asked for a lot of things I could not have. But more often than not, my Mother patiently advised that I did not need any more than I already had, and that I might consider myself lucky to have what I did. As a child, those words never consoled my selfish wanting, or, for that matter, my jealousy of those students who flaunted their crate of crayons at every opportunity.
Crayons were not the only areas wherein my brothers and I imagined that we were disadvantaged. We often complained that the lack of some superficial item caused us to lag behind in certain areas. But looking back on things now, I realize that we never lacked for love from my Mother, and in the end, I managed to carry her never-ending supply with me all the way to adulthood, coloring the world with her glow.
I am, to this day, not terribly artistic. For that, I wholeheartedly blame Mom’s inability to stretch a dollar any further than it could be pulled in those early days. And for everything else I have ever been or will be, I give the credit back to my Mother, for her forbearance, her attention, and her warmth.
As for my box of Christmas crayons, I stored them away for use by my children one day. And when they ask for carnation pink or fuchsia or cerulean blue, I hope to let them down gently if I cannot procure those colors. In their place, I hope instead I can offer them something different, something far more worthy, the same thing my Mother gave me - the right equipment.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.
Phillip Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.

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