2010-12-22 / Front Page

Editor Terry Toole celebrates 75 years

by Debra Jones

Editor Terry Toole Editor Terry Toole “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” This famous line from the Grateful Dead may apply to the lives of many, but for septuagenarian Terry Toole it is dead on the mark. As he celebrates his 75th birthday, it is the perfect time to reflect on his long, strange trip, which began as the first born of Annie Lou and Joseph Toole on December 21, 1935. Terry always quips when you mix Cook and Toole blood, look out! The result was a spirited boy spoiled completely by his Aunt Willie and Uncle Bert Priest and ultimately influenced profoundly by his paternal grandmother, Zula B. Toole.

As a child born during the Great Depression, he had a typical south Georgia upbringing of learning the value of dollar in hard times while living in an extended family, bossing around his little brother, Sammy, and mastering the skills of hunting and fishing with his father and other male relatives. Those were the days. Then high school in the 1950’s found him active in the band and sports. However, the life-changing experience of those teen years was falling in love with his classmate, Betty Jo Mason. “First wife” became his bride on January 8, 1956 after the regular church service at Colquitt Methodist Church with what Terry always calls a captive audience. And as the fairy tale says, they lived happily ever after, which in this case is no fairy tale, just the truth. Although they may have had minor disagreements and certainly their share of troubles, their love has been a constant. Just read one of his editorials for the proof.

Following the birth of their first daughter, Tammy, the couple decided to leave Atlanta, packed up their belongings and headed home to Colquitt, where they have lived ever since. Betty Jo enjoys traveling and seeing the world, but Terry is always happiest right here in Colquitt. He celebrated his 75th birthday in the place he prefers surrounded by a loving family, including his wife, Betty Jo; daughters, Tammy and Donna; son-in-law, Kent Richardson; grandchildren Garrett and Joanna Richardson and Mason Toole; and motherin law, Uva Mason. He was also wished a happy birthday by a host of friends and coworkers.

While love of family, friends, and home are the mainstays of Terry’s life, his work defines him. First employed at the Western Auto by his mother, he later became the owner and operator of the family business. Then when his aunt and uncle were ready to retire from journalism in January of 1977, they turned to their beloved nephew to take over another family business, the newspaper begun by his grandmother. Terry had experience running the presses, but everything else from editor, publisher, writer, photographer, and computer technician has been on-thejob training. A man of strong opinions and deep convictions, he believes in printing the news, as he frequently explains - the good, the bad and the ugly - striving to keep Colquitt, Georgia, and the surrounding area informed to the best of his ability.

Along the way, he has also led a life of community service. In the political arena, he was elected the ordinary (probate judge) and coroner. He has received numerous awards for his efforts: Community Volunteer of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce in 1992. At Colquitt United Methodist Church he is a faithful member of the Ris Bell Sunday School Class and has served in every capacity imaginable from choir member to trustee to stewardship chairman, to name a few.

As the song goes, “May the work I’ve done speak for me.” In the case of Terry Toole, his work definitely speaks well of him, but it is not over. While he may have just celebrated his 75th birthday, there is much left to be done. He can look at his beloved “first wife” and recite with confidence, “Grow old with me; the best is yet to come.” So let the long, strange trip continue. Happy 75th Birthday and many more!

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