Jack Wingate was a great ambassador

Published 7:18 pm Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When Jack Wingate passed away last Thursday at his home in Faceville, our beloved Bainbridge, Decatur County and Lake Seminole lost one of their greatest ambassadors.

I have covered many bass tournaments on Lake Seminole during my 41 years as sports editor of this fine newspaper and Jack was always there to congratulate the winners and talk about the virtues of the lake.

I had just started with the paper in April 1970 when I covered my first bass tournament weigh-in on Lake Seminole.

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My dear friend, former Post-Searchlight owner and publisher Sam Griffin, asked me if I would go down to Jack’s lodge on the lake and cover the weigh-in of a bass tournament.

I said sure, went down, talked to the winners and other top finishers, took pictures, and came back to the office.

I quickly wrote the tournament story and picture cutlines and sent them to Sam.

A little while later he came back to my desk and said there was a problem with my bass tournament coverage.

“Your story is not bad and you took pretty good pictures,” he said. “The problem is you have pictures of men with trophies. You covered a fishing tournament and you haven’t got a single fish in a picture.”

After that I made sure I got fish in all my weigh-in pictures.

Jack, Sam and I have had many laughs through the years about my first excursion into bass tournament coverage.

Jack loved the outdoors and loved kids. For many years he hosted his summer camp for boys at his campground.

My nephew Billy Crine, who lives in Atlanta and went to Jack’s camp as a youngster, couldn’t stop talking about how much he enjoyed it when he returned home.

For many years, the Bainbridge Bass Club, which was headquartered at Jack’s lodge on the lake, took youngsters from the Georgia Sheriffs Boys Ranch in Hahira on a weekend fishing trip on the lake.

Often, one of the highlights of the weekend was a meeting with Jack who would often entertain the boys with stories about the history of the lake and its surrounding areas.

I had the pleasure a number of years ago of interviewing Jack and writing the story when he was inducted into the legendary guides section of the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis.

I’m sure many other local people have similar heartwarming stories about their experiences with Jack. He brought smiles to the faces of many.

In conclusion, I would just like to send my sincere prayers and condolences to Jack’s dear wife Mrs. Joyce and all his children and grandchildren.