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Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Pride of Sideview Tennessee

If you use 31E to avoid the traffic and construction on I-65 to get to Nashville, you have driven through the community of Sideview. If you have been to Sideview you have also virtually driven right by the home of one of the titans of our generation, Johnny H.Hayes. While it is safe to say that most folks in Glasgow have never heard of Johnny, the converse is not true. Johnny certainly knew and cared about Glasgow, and millions of others like us in hundreds of other communities.

Johnny Hayes succumbed to stomach cancer yesterday, and we all lost a great friend. I am not qualified to tell you all about his life, as I was only lucky enough to know him for about twenty years. A really good summary of his life is available in this obituary written by Ken Whitehouse. I can tell you that he was a behind-the-scenes political operative extraordinaire. He was appointed to the TVA Board by President Clinton. He befriended me, and Glasgow, when we really could do nothing for him -- even though he had the power to do a lot for us. Inequalities like that meant nothing to Johnny. He just wanted us all to progress and prosper, and, occasionally he wanted me to stop by and just chat with him . . . mainly about how my kids were doing and his.

He was not a technical whiz. In the mid-90's when I prevailed upon him to support our efforts to combine broadband with our electric power network, even though almost everyone else at TVA thought it a bad idea, he supported us with his influence and even some of TVA's money. He was not sure what broadband was or if it really was a great idea, but he believed in the people that live in Glasgow and that was enough.

It is likely that, perhaps, ten thousand people counted Johnny as a personal friend. He had that kind of gravity. Any of those folks would make the same observation of Johnny. He could walk into any crowd of people, be it a crowd of ten or a thousand, and each of the people in that crowd would feel that Johnny was there just to see them. He gave of his soul and love so readily, it is not surprising that he succumbed so early. His defenses were weak because he gave so much of himself away. Glasgow, and the world, lost a great friend and a boundless wellspring of good on Saturday, September 20.

1 comments:

John Rogers said...

My wife and I were fortunate to know Johnny, and yes, he was a blessing to all that knew him. He was of the "old school", were loyalty meant something !
He will be missed, and remembered.
Thanks, Billy, for posting.

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