Bill KirbyOnline news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Kirby: Community lost two respected newsmen

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Friends are the angels that lift us up when our wings have forgotten how to fly.

– Jennifer Mulkerrin

Our community lost two gracious, old newsmen Wednesday.

I lost two friends.

Allow me to tell you about them.

When I came to Augusta almost 40 years ago, I lived in a spare room of a big old house on Walton Way near the college. The two elderly women who owned the house thought I provided some sense of security, as well as rides to church.

The other sense of security in their lives showed up on their TV set every weekday night. That’s when I would watch these frail matrons sitting as close to the big console as they could to hear Jim Davis tell them what was going on.

Through most of the first decades of television in Augusta, Davis was the face, the voice and the authority of TV news.

No idle happy talk; no joking; and for the most part, no co-anchor.

Just … Jim Davis.

He looked serious and sounded serious. It was only years later when I worked with him on charity events or at public presentations that I discovered how warm and funny and wonderful he was.

He always seemed to be smiling and he always asked about me; he always asked about my dog, and chuckled (perhaps at my enthusiasm) when I answered.

A great guy.

Speaking of great guys, Al Ludwick was the executive sports editor when I started here and remains one of this newspaper’s finest gentlemen.

In the old days, when the night side newsroom was manned by a tribe known for its tension and testosterone – profane, profound and, at times, poetic – Al was serene and competent and capable.

The executive sports editor of The Augusta Chronicle and Herald, he rarely raised his voice, lost his cool or blamed subordinates, which pretty much everyone else did.

I would like to say I tried to be more like Al, but if I did, I failed.

We ran an old photograph with his news obituary Thursday. It shows him wearing a tuxedo and sitting at his typewriter on the sports desk.

I wrote the story that went with that picture 35 years ago. I dug out the old clipping Wednesday night and recalled how Al would sometimes enter the newsroom in white tie and tails on his way to or from performing with the Augusta Symphony. He played trombone, and played it well. In fact, he did everything well.

He wrote columns, he covered sports, he helped build the legacy that would become this newspaper’s reputation for golf coverage. That’s what he’s known for. But I remember him for his kindness to a young journalist who wrote about people at their worst, while sitting beside one of our best.

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jgforteachers 05/24/13 - 10:56 am
Very nice tribute to both

Very nice tribute to both men. I personally knew Al, having grown up next door to this wonderful family. Neighborhood children were always in and out of their house. You have him pegged very well. He always was calm and nothing every seemed to bother him. He will be deeply missed by Peggy, Tim, Ellen, Brian and Emily as well as all of his grandchildren. RIP Al - keep playing that trombone in the heavenly choir.

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