Letter to the Editor

Published 4:45 pm Friday, May 1, 2015

We sat opposite a grand and opulent desk.

He picked up his cup of coffee and leaned back in his lush brown leather chair and looked at me.

“You know,” he said, “there are only three kinds of people in the world.

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“People who can coach the local high school football team, people who can raise their neighbors’ kids and people who can edit the local newspaper.”

That, to me, sums up Sam Griffin. The job he devoted his life to was so simple, yet so complex.

Sam lived in his community, criticized his community and praised it, all with a shrug of the shoulders and a smile.

I only worked for Sam for two years in the mid-1990s, but I got the big picture in that short time. He was a big man in a small town, yet he found a way to serve everyone, both big and small.

But the one thing I’ll always remember about Sam was a discussion about how to handle a story about a known drug user that was shot and killed by a public safety officer at a housing project in Bainbridge.

I don’t remember the exact details of the story, but I’ll never forget Sam lowering his head, then looking up at me across that desk as we both held warm cups of coffee from his personal coffee-maker.

I’m paraphrasing here, but what I remember him saying was “even a drug dealer has a mother, and we have to think about her when we write the story.”

Paraphrasing again, “we all have mothers, and they deserve to be considered, no matter what.”

That’s stuck with me for more than 20 years. Compassion has a place in our business, and Sam Griffin knew it.

As much as he believed in making your own way through life, he didn’t blindly condemn those who fall through the cracks of society. He could be a stern man when that was called for, but in the time I knew him, he was always a fair man, a gentleman.

Personally, he and I had ideological differences in many areas, but he was always willing to discuss those differences and was never condescending or overbearing. He was willing to listen to differing viewpoints, but you always knew what he believed, and whether you agreed with him or not wasn’t the point.

The point was that he was willing to sit across that desk and talk to you, and more importantly, listen.

Rest in peace, Sam, and my deepest condolences to Mrs. Mary Ann, family and friends.


Eddie Ledbetter

Assistant editor, The Statesboro Herald and proud alumni of the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight