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Bill Kirby Jr.: CityView TODAY’s readers’ opinions and thoughts matter to us


The written word doesn’t mean much unless you have folks taking the time to read your words. That’s where you, our subscribers and readers of CityView TODAY, play such a significant role in our digital news operation that’s moving into its sixth month.

Writing and reporting are part of my DNA, but what subscribers and readers say and write matter, too. And here along Breezewood Avenue, we always look forward to hearing from you.

Your turn: “One has to appreciate the craftsmanship and architectural design of a structure to truly admire and treasure it,” Mary Blue dePrater writes about the downtown Market House. “Just like the Egyptian tombs or any historic building, the Market House was designed and built by men who had a deep understanding of advanced mathematical principles, which had to be adhered, to ensure its strength. When I look at this beautiful old building, I truly appreciate that at that time in history, these gentlemen were able to design and construct a brick building with the majority of its weight on the second floor, being held up by numerous wide, evenly spaced arches, which has been able to withstand the environmental factors that would affect a building built on sandy soil near a major river bed. Only men of genius could have accomplished such a goal. We should all be very proud that these highly-intelligent men once lived in our community and gave us such a beautiful, strong center point. To not do so would be to destroy their memory and the contribution they have made to our community.” 

My turn: Apparently, Miss dePrater, you have done your research regarding the Market House that has become such a controversial issue, largely because slaves once were sold there. Some want the landmark demolished. Opponents argue otherwise. The Market House is staying. It will be repurposed to note its history. But it’s staying right where it is. Thank you for your research.  

Your turn: “Bill, your article on repurposing the Market House is spot on,” Mayon Weeks writes in an email about our April 27 column on the historic landmark. “Excellent perspective.” 

My turn: Just common sense, Mr. Weeks. No slave ever will be sold there again. It was repurposed long ago with the abolishment of slavery. 

Your turn: “Bill, a wonderful article and tribute to one of our dear friends, Joy Cogswell,” Bill Bowman writes about our May 1 column about the gifted music teacher who recently retired as director of the Snyder Music Academy at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church. “Joy is a rare talent and a warm and wonderful human being. She was our son Grady's very first introduction to rhythm and music at the age of 4 and provided him support and inspiration all during his childhood and into his career. Nicely done, Bill. Her story needed to be told.” 

My turn: Joy Cogswell has been a musical gift to this community since 1971 from lead pianist at the church to her teaching today at The Fayetteville Academy.  

Your turn: “Another great article you have written on Bob Ray,” Rod Walters writes in an email about our May 20 column about the Fayetteville lawyer who died at age 79 on May 20. ”I was his paperboy over 50 years ago. They lived on the street next to us. He and Sylvia were great people.” 

My turn: They were a beautiful couple, he the southern gentleman and Sylvia Ray with the caring heart for underprivileged women in this community. Sylvia Ray died at age 79 on Nov. 20, 2020. 

Your turn: “Mr. Kirby, I read your column about Jesse Byrd and just wanted to say how much I appreciated what you had to say,” the Rev. Brett L. Johnson, pastor at Galatia Presbyterian Church, writes in an email about our May 18 column about Byrd. “Well done, sir. I worked with Jesse when I was on staff at First Presbyterian. He truly was a great guy.” 

My turn: That he was pastor. Byrd died at age 88 on May 13.  

Your turn: “Bill, I don’t have words to express an adequate thank you,” Claudia Treadaway writes in an email about the column on Byrd. “You captured Jesse Byrd perfectly. He was all you wrote and more. He was one of my dearest friends ever, and yet I didn’t meet him until maybe 1976. Really not sure the exact year, but a friend from the earlier years of our friendship until the end. Thanks for writing about him.” 

My turn: No words needed, Mrs. Treadaway. So many of us know how good you were to Byrd in life, and how you were there for his family when he died. And how much your friendship meant to him.  

Your turn: “Bill, thank you for your article on Jesse Byrd,” Linda Tillman writes in an email. “Of all the personal profiles you have ever written, this is among the very best. A respiratory infection kept me away from the service, but reading your words gave me an opportunity to say my own goodbye to Jesse. It has been my privilege to have worked with him in civic endeavors and to call him my friend. I will miss his physical presence but be ever grateful for the legacy he has left.” 

My turn: You can be assured, Mrs. Tillman, that Byrd would have understood your absence from his service. He would have told all of us not to make a fuss over him and to go home and get out of the heat. That was Jesse Byrd. You are right about his legacy. Many patients undergoing treatment at the cancer center at Cape Fear Valley Health will recover and go on with their lives because of the $1 million he pledged and fulfilled with the Irene Thompson Byrd Cancer Care Endowment at the Friends of the Cancer Center in memory of his late wife. 

Your turn: Bill, greetings from Chicago,” Colin Freccia writes in an email. “I just had the pleasure of reading the recent article you wrote in CityView on Jesse. You really captured the true spirit of Jesse Byrd. Thank you. I'll leave you with two quotes (paraphrased from memory) from Jesse. One time Jesse told me that he played tennis in school as a child, and someone mentioned to him that he looked like he was sweating. He said with a corrective response, ‘Southern men don't sweat, they glisten.’ Jesse loved to talk about the Duke-Carolina rivalry and one time he told me, ‘What's the first thing a Carolina fan will say the night after they just lost a basketball game? Oh, was there a game last night?’” 

My turn: Vintage Jesse Byrd, Freccia. Vintage Jesse Byrd. 

Your turn: ‘Bill, I enjoyed your tribute to Jesse Byrd,” John McFadyen writes in an email. “His ties and eyewear were always spot on.” 

My turn: Neckties by the scores. 

Your turn: “Bill, I really enjoyed your kind words and the article this morning about Jesse Byrd,” Eric Nobles writes in an email. “He was a neighbor of mine and a good man. I have fond memories of Jesse going back over 30 years and, as usual, your tribute to him was very accurate and moving.” 

My turn: He was a good man, Mr. Nobles, and always true to himself and those who knew him.   

Your turn: “Bill, I always enjoy your columns,” Walter Greene writes in an email. “Today's (Mother’s Day) … of Rev. Leighton McKeithan's sermon on Mother's Day was special, and I have sent a copy to my children and grandchildren. My wife, Deborah, grew up in Highland Presbyterian. Leighton performed our wedding ceremony Feb. 3, 1968. He and I both graduated from Davidson College. As you described, he was an exemplary minister.” 

My turn: An exemplary minister and a scholar when it came to the Bible. The Mother’s Day sermon of Temple Bailey’s “A Little Parable for Mothers” was one of his best in a long career in the ministry. A copy of the parable has been in the narthex of my home for more than 50 years. It was a gift for my mother. The Rev. Leighton Black McKeithen Jr. died at age 88 on May 8, 2013. 

Your turn:Bill, as I read your article this morning, I reflected on the many times I sat in church with my mother and thought of the delicious potato salad she had already prepared for our Sunday meal,” Sandy Hurley writes about the May 8 Mother’s Day column. “We talked about this when you visited my mother a year or two before she went to her heavenly home. We both had God-fearing mothers, and I was blessed to be my mother’s daughter.  

“Your article was so touching. I had to send you a note and brag on you for your gift of writing. Mother always loved to read your articles before she lost her eyesight due to macular degeneration. You always put a lift in my spirit. This is my second Mother’s Day without Mother.”  

My turn: I never will forget visiting your wonderful mother, Mrs. Hurley. She was such a delightful lady with her quiet way. She was lovely, and I saw during my visit how special she was to you and how proud you were to call her your mother. 

Your turn: “Thank you again Bill Kirby for this heart-warming tribute to your mother and to Rev. McKeithan,” Judy Dawkins writes about the Mother’s Day column. “I cried when I read it. You were blessed to have your mother, who was beautiful inside and out.”  

My turn: My mother was my best friend in life, Mrs. Dawkins. She remains a presence in my life every day, and Marian McNeill McMillan Kirby always will walk with me. 

Your turn: “What a good column,” Carol Quigg writes in an email about the Mother’s Day tribute. “I know how much you loved, love and miss your Mama, as I do mine.” 

Your turn: “Bill, thanks for the piece in CityView TODAY on Leighton McKeithen,” Karl Legatski writes in an email. “By coincidence on the day that story ran, Lynn and I were in Raleigh at the N.C. History Museum. We went through the World War II exhibit about North Carolinians who fought in that war. I took below a photo of the placard in an exhibit about Leighton.” 

My turn: Indeed, Leighton McKeithen was proud of his WWII service and would become emotional when talking about those war days with those he served with and came to admire.   

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961. 

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Market House, Jesse Byrd, Joy Cogswell, Leighton McKeithan