Highland County Lost a Friend

An advertisement ran on these pages in the spring of 1996. “Want to abandon Highland County?” it asked. “Not us, we’ve fallen in love with the area and the people. While others are leaving, we want to come. Perhaps you have or know of just the right Highland County place for us to live.”

The ad was placed by David Allen and Pat Wilson when, several years ago, the couple had decided to “change direction” in their lives. They were tired of “what some call progress” in northeast Georgia. “You’ll find we’ll be good neighbors and an asset to the Highland County community. If you can help us relocate, perhaps we can be new friends for you, too.”

When they found the perfect spot along Vinegar Run, another string of ads ran in the paper — “Sometimes things in life seem to move and evolve so very, very slowly. It has taken almost two years, but very gradually, things do change, almost imperceptibly and usually, in hindsight, they change for the better. Now, finally, we’re about to put wheels on what we’ve been planning all this time. Soon Highland County will be home for us and our collection of oddities. Thanks for all the help. Your new neighbors, David and Pat.”

David died last week, having become the asset and good neighbor he promised to be. He leaves a slew of unfulfilled, ongoing efforts — each based on the idea that Highland was a place to be preserved and cultivated for its beauty and people. He had a lot left to do.

One of his causes was The Recorder’s clear need for better photography, a challenge he took on within a year of his arrival. A professional with years of experience, this bear of a man in bib overalls waltzed in and offered to train our staff, free of charge. We were astounded and grateful. He redesigned the darkroom, updated ancient equipment, and spent countless hours teaching the intricate skills of camera work.

In addition, he offered his own feature-style photos for publication, adding depth and graphic strength to our special sections. One of our readers’ favorites — “What Is It?” photos that appeared each week — were fun, interesting and fresh. All of this cost us nothing, but his investment in time and energy was priceless.

He never gave up, which was typical of David; he persisted with any effort — full of follow-through. He had very high standards and expectations, and was sometimes perplexed at those who didn’t.

And every effort he made was for a good cause. Each time he saw a need, he jumped in with both feet and gave entirely of himself — in each instance, for things he believed could improve the quality of life here. There was no hidden agenda, and little reward for him except the satisfaction of being a good neighbor.

In a very short time here — too short — he did become an asset to Highland, and a friend to many. He deserves to be remembered and exemplified.

Thanks, David.