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Mary Frances had special love for sports

In his column appearing on the front page of Saturday’s edition, my dear friend, The Post-Searchlight Publisher Emeritus Sam Griffin, wrote about the many wonderful qualities of our long time colleague and friend, Mary Frances Donalson, who passed away Thursday morning.

Those qualities included a great love of animals and day lilies, a strong supporter of law enforcement officers, and a dedicated, loving service to her Lord, her church, her community and her friends.

She was always there to lend a helping hand to those in need or those who were suffering the loss of a loved one. I will never forget the many nice, caring things she did for me when my dear, late mother was sick and dying.

There was one side of Mary Frances, however, that I don’t think a lot of people knew about, but as sports editor of this fine newspaper, I think it is my duty to bring it to light.

She also loved young people and loved to see them excel in sports, the band and other extracurricular activities.

Many times she told me stories about the years she covered the Attapulgus High School Bulldogs basketball team, coached by another dear friend, the late Charles Bess.

She talked about current Decatur County Commissioner Russell Smith and what a great player he was for those teams.

Also, for several years, Mary Frances sat by my side in the Centennial Field press box on Friday nights assisting me with coverage of Bainbridge High School Bearcats football games. She particularly enjoyed the award-winning Marching Bearcat Band’s halftime performances.

She understood that extracurricular activities like sports and band taught young people positive qualities like character, discipline and leadership, but she also knew that people like me often put too much emphasis on sports and their importance in day to day life. She made that point to me often, and she was absolutely right.

Another thing she enjoyed immensely was covering the Georgia Sheriff’s’ Youth Homes Golf Tournament, started and sponsored annually by the Decatur County Sheriffs’ Department and the Communications Workers of America.

She looked forward every year to covering the event because she loved and appreciated the great work her law enforcement friends at the sheriffs office and the golfers who played in the tournament were doing to provide a secure home and future for Georgia’s innocent, neglected, abused and abandoned children between the ages of 6 and 16. Those facilities are the Georgia Sheriffs’ Boys Ranch near Hahira, the Cherokee Estate for girls near Dalton, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Home near LaGrange and the Georgia Sheriffs’ Harrington Homestead near Nunez.

While the golfers at this year’s tournament, scheduled for later this month at Bainbridge Country Club, will miss seeing Mary Frances with her camera as they come in with their score cards, they will know that her spirit and love are with them.

While sporting events were far from being at the top of her priority list, she loved covering the Attapulgus Bulldogs, Bainbridge Bearcats and Sheriffs’ Youth Homes golfers when she got the chance.

All of us who knew and loved her can be consoled by knowing she is with the Lord she loved and served every day.