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August 20, 1999

In a tight little community like Perry, the loss of even one diminishes all of us. We grieve this week over three deaths, and perhaps others, with special meaning to our town.

Jason Scott Waltermire scarcely had time to bring joy to his family when, at the tender age of just two and a half months, he was called back to his heavenly father this past week. His smile and good nature brightened the room in spite of the illness that abbreviated his life. Mother and father, Brenda and J.B. Waltermire, have experienced one of the most tragic moments imaginable in their lives. Only those who have lost infants of their own can begin to understand the breadth and depth of the sorrow that pulls at them. But they also will always remember with pride the fighting spirit demonstrated by this precious youngster in the face of severe adversity. How appropriate that the Waltermire family has suggested that memorial gifts for Jason be designated for the assistance of another young Perryan, Hannah Schwandt, who also is fighting a serious, debilitating disease.

Luella Davidson was a special lady in this town in many ways. She had been honored as our Outstanding Citizen in 1989, and with good reason. She was a tireless worker in many areas, all of them intended to improve the quality of life for her neighbors and family in this community. She was one of those individuals who have good ideas and know how to push the right buttons to bring them to reality. We will miss Luella and her community leadership.

The death last month of Bruce Wilson in Texas also was reported in this newspaper the other day, and the name may leave you wondering who he was. If you lived here in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, you would be well aware of the Wilson family. Bruce's dad, T.B. (Dory) Wilson, was a former mayor of Perry and a former president of the Perry Golf & Country Club. Dory was a colorful oil rig builder from West Virginia who came here in the oil boom days along with Cliff Robinson, Sam Hamby and a few others to practice their trade in the bustling jungle of derricks that sprang up all over the countryside. They built the rigs from rough timbers, but their trade failed when steel derricks and portable outfits became the choice of. wildcatters and others seeking black gold. Dory, Sam and Cliff remained in the rig building business but learned to do it without those timbers.

When I was a school-age brat, our family lived across the street from the Wilsons at Eighth and Elm. With my two older sisters, Jeanice and Gloria, we enjoyed summer afternoons when we could engage the Wilson boys, Bruce, Earl and Carl, in dirt clod fights. The Beers team ducked low in an open ditch along a dirt street while the Wilson boys, who never shrank from a good fight, took refuge in a ditch on their side of the street. After wearing ourselves out hurling dirt missiles at each other, we usually wound up in the Wilson kitchen or ours sipping a glass of cold water or sweet milk, each side claiming victory. In our hearts, the Beers kids knew we were overmatched. Those Wilson boys were too tough for us. They were good kids. Bruce was the last to go. Carl was a casualty of World War II and Earl died a few years ago. Dory and his wife, Eunice, also are gone. Together, they constituted one of Perry's very best families. Our sympathies to all those who have experienced the loss of loved ones.