There was a man

He was a gentle soul with a slow amble of a walk, more a shuffle than a stride, but a stride it was. He spoke with a certainty of the good fortune bestowed upon him by the fates of powerful change. Perhaps from a greater power he chose to call a God of his understanding.

Many of you reading this may not of known this particular man and are at a disadvantage for not having the honor of his presence. But maybe you’ve known someone just like him. A man of full measure that could be counted on in all situations. Think on that for a moment: A man to be counted on in all situations. Rare.

He had a smile where his eyes would tell you of the goodness hidden in pain. That pain, perhaps weakness, even fear, were his foundations for strength driven by gratitude and love. He wore it with ease.

Love, such a word drenched in ubiquitous little utterances. That was not so in this gentle soul. Not so at all. He wore it easily, simply, without fanfare or edict. He just was.

This gift was born out of years of anguish, broken promises, leftover days and forgotten nights. Even prison after crimes were committed and time served for real transgressions. There was heartache aplenty. Anger and fear were close friends. Life was scrabbled together hard and without quarters. His was a path lined with foul play.

Then, it changed. Slowly. With difficulty. It was not a religious conversion, financial windfall or cathartic vision. He got nabbed by a movement of sorts. A man with unwavering support stood by him and said yes, it can be done; yes, I will do it with you. Yes, there is a life to be lived that is worth living.

This gentle soul jumped into the flow of this group of men and women learning how to live one day a time without the use of intoxicants. They would band together on a daily, nightly, weekly basis, and ascribe to a blueprint already laid out by so many before.

This relentless protocol was absorbed into this man’s inner being and actual change was afoot. It was clear, maybe even unnerving for this man who only lived in darkened, resentful corners of this world. And he knew only too well how this world could be ugly. He’d been a part of the ugliness.

But not now. Not for many years. The other side of four decades, this man walked with a grace reserved for a few. He was that few. Helping scores of men and women find their way from anger to peace, from hatred to love, from anguish to comfort.

This gentle soul was tough; tough as hard-tacked nails. He had a car fall on his head once only to have it lifted off by his loving family. He was tough as hard-tacked nails.

He married and raised a family of fine sons. Good stock, as my father used to say. Well bred. Good stock. His life shines brightly in their faces.

Author Thomas Hardy wrote a book, “The Mayor of Casterbridge.” In that book a character describes the mayor as “ a man to be reckoned with.” I can think of no greater honor than to say that about this gentle soul, Don Newcomb. He was a man to be reckoned with.

As you might imagine by now, we lost Don recently. He had just turned 80. The world misses him. We miss him. I miss him. I miss my friend.

Godspeed, Mr. Don Newcomb. Godspeed.


About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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