By G. Wayne Dowdy
The loss of life weighs heavily on your correspondent as he writes another letter to Colonel John McLeod Keating, managing editor of the Memphis Daily Appeal during the 1878 yellow fever epidemic.
Dear Colonel Keating:
The pandemic continues to take its bitter toll. Shelby County has witnessed an astonishing increase in Covid-19 cases – 594 citizens contracted the virus in a 2 day period. This brought our total number of cases to 9,904 and 185 people have lost their lives. Nationally the statistics are more frightening – 2.6 million cases and over 126,000 deaths. As the casualty list grows, so does the anguish. Few of us have been spared the pain of losing a friend or family member.
I was saddened to learn last week that my old friend and devoted library volunteer Terry Thompson had passed away.
Robert (Terry) T. Thompson, August 4, 1938 – June 20, 2020
Terry was a brave man. He looked our world straight in the eye, accepted it for what it was, and tried to make it better. He lent his pen and photographer’s eye to the study of history and gave his heart to those suffering from addiction.
As a library volunteer he helped so many people uncover their family stories while also preserving the history of the lumber industry.
One of the pleasures of working at the library is the opportunity it provides to meet interesting and talented people like Terry. His visits to my office were always a pleasure. We would talk of writing, the importance of history and the general state of the planet. No matter the topic of the moment, Terry would always take time to tell me of his family. His face would be filled with a light that beamed from within his soul as he proudly described the latest news of his wife, children and grandchildren. When he was done you felt better for having been in the presence of a man who loved so deeply.
All of us need to practice social distancing, wear face coverings and demand more from our disturbingly inert national government, with corruption in plain sight, so we can protect the brave ones like Terry who are still with us. I pray more of my fellow Americans will realize how much we have to lose if we fail in our duty.
There is more news to share about the fight for racial justice but I will save that for another time.
That’s the way Memphis is on the first day of July in the year of our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty.
Your faithful correspondent
G. Wayne Dowdy