The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC


May 6, 2013

With much thanks and love …

TARBORO — The past month has been interesting, to say the least.

As I grew up, my first cousins — a group of us that have simply been referred to as “The Cousins” would often joke that when we died, we knew it would be as the result of a heart attack. That’s the history of the Walker family and my Dad and his seven brothers and sisters, as heir parents had, died of heart-related issues.

But along the way, something else happened, Cousins Joyce, Dudley, Don, Kenneth, Howard and Jimmy all died after a courageous battle with cancer.

Dudley and Don and Jimmy and Howard were brothers. But we were much more than cousins. We were a true Southern family in that no matter how far away we might move, we always wound up back at Granny Walker’s.

As youngsters in the 1950s, we fought the axis powers from World War II in her pastures. We fought over the churn as she would churn buttermilk on the back porch and we would heed her warning to watch out for snakes when we would go collect eggs in the chicken house.

Joyce was old enough — and I young enough — that her death didn’t register with me as the others.

The heart issues and the battles with cancer all kind of came together Saturday morning as we survivors walked that closing lap at Relay for Life.

You see, abut a month before the time we were taking to the track at Tarboro High School for that closing lap, the Edgecombe County Rescue Squad was pulling up in front of our house as I sat — dead left arm and mostly in a daze — after suffering a stroke.

Today, I’m the only cousin to have survived my battles with cancer and cardiac issues. I don’t know what the Lord has in store, but I’m thankful He has included me in His plan and continues to watch over me.

On that last lap, I couldn’t help but think about Cousin Howard, who was a researcher at the University of Iowa and was probably the most loyal reader any writer could ever want. He and I battled cancer at the same time and would talk late at night when his wife, Beth, worked at the U o I and my wife, Stephanie, worked critical care transport for Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

There were times we solved the problems of the world and there were others when, on a night before a Hawkeye football game, he would want to know “did Uncle Horace (my Dad) teach you how to boil peanuts?” He did and I shared it with Howard.

There were other times when we confided in one another that we knew what the name of the chemotherapy drug we were both on stood for. It was 5FU.

Sorry. I realize this is a family newspaper.

But on that last lap, I remembered that Howard, who was a gentle giant with an ever-present smile, said that cancer would not kill him — because he would take his cancer to the grave with him.

Medical professionals are quick to tell you that what they do is their calling and they need no special thanks. I know that because that’s what my wife tells others.

“It’s what I choose to do,” they say, almost embarrassed that someone has acknowledged the skills the Lord has placed within them.

There are so many “what ifs” in my story … what if my wife hadn’t gotten my 911 text? What if the rescue squad had taken but a few minutes longer? What if Dr. Weathers and the ED crew hadn’t done what they did so very well? What of the medical staff on the third floor and the fourth floor and the rehab staff?

What a blessing we, as a community, have in our hospital and its facilities.

A little over a year ago, I wrote a Monday column that related the fact I thought Tarboro felt like home.

Today, I feel that even more strongly after friends and absolute strangers alike would come by to tell me they had heard I had suffered a stroke and my wife and I were in their prayers.

I learned a long time ago to not try and name names in a column because, try as you might, you’ll forget someone and the last thing I want to do now is forget anyone who helped me along the way.

I’ll tell you, though … I was right. It DOES feel like home.

To everyone who helped me get to this point — and to my co-workers at The Daily Southerner — thank you for you love and support.

To my wife … thank God for you … and to Bridget, our 6-year-old rescue Lab, everlasting ear scratches and shoulder rubs for helping me get up those steps to where I could get to those aspirin.

God is good every day and every day, God is good.

From our family to you and yours, thank you for your love, support and prayers.

(John H. Walker is editor and publisher of The Daily Southerner and can be reached at 823-3106 or


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  • The legacy of Joe W. Dickens Jr.'s dash

    Joe W. Dickens Jr.
    Sept. 14, 1953 - March 21, 2014
    The above statement is profound in its own way. It signifies the birth and the death of one of the most influential men in Edgecombe Coun

    March 31, 2014


    On July 28, 911 was called because my husband had a bad headache. I was transferred to communications in Edgecombe County, where I spoke to a female operator. I informed her I needed Rescue because my husband had a bad headache and gave her our address and telephone number.

    September 26, 2013


    To the Editor:
    Sheriff Knight’s “guys” may have worked hard on the case concerning Melvin Ray Fox, but did they really? Probably not for the sheriff, but for someone else behind the scenes. Not condoning Mr. Fox for his crime, because he should be punished, but not necessarily in the manner of leaving behind his wife as well as his 3-, 5- 7- and 13-year-old children.

    September 10, 2013


    Concerning the Tarboro High 2013 Vikings football team: They have heart and desire. That was shown Friday night versus Washington. Just like last year’s state championship game, we got behind against a very good team. The Vikings didn’t quit even though they had several injuries throughout the game.  Right up to the last minute we had a chance  but, things didn’t go our way.

    September 5, 2013


    To the Editor:
    It appears Mr. (Garland) Shepheard is shaking up things in our fair city according to a recent Daily Southerner article. Hurrah for him. This citizen, for one, believes the status quo needs a little shake up.
    I don’t know if Mr. Shepheard is disrespectful with his words and/or
    actions at council meetings or not. I don’t attend them any longer. It isn’t that I don’t care that some residents may suggest.

    September 4, 2013


    To the Editor:
    Having just recently read the front page article in The Daily Southerner regarding Councilman Shepheard’s issues with the Tarboro town manager, I was left with more questions than answers.
    The article states that  Mr. Shepheard’s reasons for not voting in favor of extending the town manager’s contract had to do with “deplorable conditions of three town facilities, Thornton’s hiring practices and giving the council what he said was false information.” That’s it.  That’s all the information we were given.

    September 2, 2013


    To the Editor:
    So who are you Mr. Allen Dennie Jr.? I have never heard of you. I have tried to find your voter registration on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website and I can't find it.
    Somebody said that you have an impressive resume. I say and ?
    But what I find interesting is the following. Mr. Dennie the current Sheriff is the following: "The sheriff of any county should be a person who has a personal interest in the citizens that work live and visit their county,"

    August 18, 2013


    To the Editor:
    I am glad that opinions are being expressed regarding my actions at the Town Council meetings,  both by Mr. Walker and Mr. Wooten.
    It is my intention to expose the concerns expressed to me by the taxpayers of Tarboro, and when I find something that causes Tarboro not to be the Town we can all be proud of, I will speak up. I was told by people in Ward 8 when I ran for this office not to be like the rest of the Council and I expressed that to the members. The problems that exist in Tarboro should not have to be aired in public or at the Town Council Meetings and there should not be any discord.

    August 18, 2013


    To the Editor:
    I am writing out of concern about disc golf. We as a town need to consider projects that have been given to (parks and recreation director) Cheryl Gay before this disc golf came along — like a walking trail at Clark Park, repairing the bathrooms, making sure the playground equipment is up-to-date and finding out what happen to the lights on the baseball field before we find money for disc golf. The town needs to consider what we been discussing in these last couple of meetings about recreation. I would love to see the Clark Park baseball field turned into a kickball field, which is a sport that everybody knows how to play, before you consider disc golf.
    Greg Higgs,

    August 15, 2013


    To the Editor:
    Monday night at the Town Council meeting (Aug. 12, 2013), I witnessed some the most disruptive,vitriolic and asinine behavior that I’ve ever seen, in the person of (Ward 8) councilman Garland Shepheard.  For several months, his behavior has grown progressively worse and it seems to embolden him to waste my time, the time of the other council members and the time of other citizens who care enough about Tarboro to attend council meetings.

    August 15, 2013