We were just going through a normal Tuesday morning at The Lebanon Democrat when news trickled in that Billy Carr had died.
For the few who didn’t know him, it’s hard to sum up Billy in a few words. At one point or another, he had done just about every behind the scenes job at the paper, from working the press room to delivering the mail. He served the paper for more than 65 years, starting as a young man and staying on the job until the day he died.
But Billy was more than just a hard worker, around here. He was known as the office cut up. He came in each morning with the mail and a “did you hear about” story that concerned the latest gossip among the local political scene.
He spent each morning at “the restaurant,” (exactly which restaurant we never determined) where he would get the low down on all the news that wasn’t fit to print. If we could have printed the stuff he related to the newsroom staff, circulation would have gone through the roof. Of course, we also would have been busy defending ourselves in court.
He was always ready with a joke and a few semi-risque remarks. His classic Monica Lowenski joke had his co-workers howling and he was known for his trademark smirk as he gave his take on local politicians. Billy had seen it all and was phased by nothing.
Like a lot of people of his generation, he was not sure about gay marriage, but when I said it was usually best to let everyone mind their own business, he seemed to take that to heart. What really got him thinking was my remark that I thought gay people should be able to get married, after all, why shouldn’t they suffer with the rest of us, Billy laughed. It was the kind of remark that could sway a man with an active sense of humor and an appreciation for the ironic.
Billy never took anything too seriously, especially not himself. His stories about his time in the Army had the makings of a great comedy as he related tales of cold weather, unasked for transfers and the men he served along side. Many times old warriors make their service sound like they were all at the Battle of the Bulge. With Billy one got the impression it was a bit more like the movie “Little Big Man” – a comedy of errors.
Preliminary reports are that Billy died quickly, and in many ways that is good. He didn’t suffer or linger on in illness that might have robbed him of his sense of fun. He got to be himself right up to the end. Isn’t that the best any of us can hope for?
For those of you who knew Billy, you know what I’m talking about, and as soon as you dried your tears you began to smile as your favorite Billy moments came back in memory. For those of you who didn’t, you missed a great guy and one who will be sorely missed.
Mary Hinds is a staff writer for The Lebanon Democrat. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @WilsonNewsWritr.