Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Good Man, Brutal Ending

Years ago, as a reporter for the Marion Star in Marion, S.C., I came to know and appreciate the incredible knowledge and expertise of a man named Gault Beeson. He was the county administrator, in which role he exercised an infinite and mind-boggling store of knowledge about the geography, geology, infrastructure, demographics, topiary, ingress, and egress of the county, and -- as the person who drafted the annual budget -- how much all of it costs to maintain. He knew the location of every single dirt road, every housing development, every boat dock, and every trail.

This knowledge was on full display every couple of weeks at county council meetings, and I mean it as something of a tribute to say that I always dreaded his reports, because there was nothing really interesting about them, and he was so detail-oriented. If there was a neighborhood that lacked proper drainage, for example, he had to explain where it was, and what it would take to fix it, and he so fully anticipated that someone would ask an extremely complex question that he answered well before anyone had a chance. His reports could go on for an ice age. After meetings were over, I'd usually go back to his office for the short version, which I always got. He was not averse to boiling things down to the bare essentials, or answering -- in chapter and verse -- any question.

I haven't seen Gault Beeson in a good 25 years, so the news in today's paper came as a horrible, horrible shock -- lessened only very slightly by the knowledge that despite years of being a full-fledged workaholic, he had made it to the age of 85 and was still mobile enough to go check up on his hunting dogs.

My prayers and condolences go out to his family and his many, many friends.


Paul Batson said...

Your notes on Gault Beeson are so accurate in description of his vast base of knowledge of things Marion County. There will never be another man like him,for he was in many ways a gift of the ethics and morals of 19th century moreso than a modern man. He believed in doing all things correctly, he believed in the values of human decency to all people, and he quietly but effectively loathed those who were lazy and irresponsible.

He was a loving man to his family and to his friends, and there has never been a greater lover of Beagles hounds to walk the face of this earth.

Sadly, it is ironic that his murderer will benefit from the vast improvements to the Marion County Detention system that were initiated solely by Gault Beeson.

I don't know who Rodney Welch is, but I appreciate the opportunity to add to your writing on Gault.

Paul Batson, Greenville SC - A 50+ year friend of Gault Beeson

RW said...

Thanks for the comment -- and if I'm not mistaken, I knew your dad and I know your sister, both wonderful people.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments about my dad and sister, Rodney. Best wishes to you and thanks for your notes on Gault and for accepting my comments.

Paul Batson III

Ted said...

I appreciate your comments regarding the late Gault Beeson and his attention to detail. About four years ago, Gault called me to offer a puppy from one of his beloved mama beagles. I had taught Mike, Gregg, and Frank in high school, and Gregg and I were close friends after he graduated and went to West Point. Gault offered the pup as an appreciation of my work with his young men, but truthfully, the young men taught me far more than I taught them. The dog, named Savannah, sleeps in my bed at night and follows me wherever I go. She is a good and proper lady, just as Gault would want her to be.