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What makes a town great? It's the people who live there, young and old alike.

Today's column is meant to be a tribute and expression of gratitude to those who came before me in Fayetteville and made a difference for the town I love the most. Many are no longer with us. Others are in the fourth quarter of life, yet still productive because they get up every day refusing to let the old person in. They continue in a variety of ways to help people and are still doing what they can to make their town an even better place for all who will follow them.

This is about my hometown but it's about yours, too. Because regardless of our age or where we live, we are the beneficiaries of the foundation laid for our community by those who preceded us. The generations that follow should never forget the good works and many contributions of their predecessors to the place that means the most to them. For me, that's Fayetteville.

Most of us hope to leave our hometown better than we found it. The verdict is in for those generations in Fayetteville ahead of mine. Because of years of dedication to a place they deeply cared about and believed in, they gave us a town we can be proud of, one in which the possibilities for the future are limitless. Through their wise leadership, clear vision, tireless efforts, profound generosity and robust community pride, they lifted us up by charting a course that put Fayetteville on the right path, positioning the town to become all it could be.

We go to a funeral and memorial service because we cared about the person we've lost and we care about his or her family. And we go because a part of living is honoring, respecting and remembering those who have died, often a person who meant something special to us and our community during the course of their life. Too frequently now, I find myself at a service in Fayetteville for a man or woman I looked up to, a person who I learned from and helped to show me the way and someone who set a fine example for those younger. These are people who contributed immeasurably to making Fayetteville an ideal place to live, work and raise a family.

A month ago, my wife and I were at a beautiful memorial service joining with others to celebrate the well-lived life of Fayetteville's Hugh Brewer, who passed away at age 82. From any distance, especially at closest range, Brewer was a man to be admired and enjoyed. He won big in the game of life. A good citizen who loved Fayetteville, he was an involved member of the community, actively engaging in numerous ways during his lifetime to help others and to improve his hometown. Brewer's life exemplified all that is exceptional about his generation and all that is right about Fayetteville. Like so many others, he did his duty and did it well to leave his hometown better than he found it.

Glancing around the church during the service for Brewer, I noticed the many faces of those assembled who are now in their 70s, 80s or 90s. What I saw was an impressive array of remarkable, down-to-earth people beyond my age who, each in their own fashion, have led the way for years in shaping and moving Fayetteville forward, doing their part to make their chosen hometown what it is today, one of the best places to live anywhere in America. I was looking at men and women from varied walks of life, each with their own story to tell, who for decades have been difference-makers and instrumental in making Fayetteville better for all who live there. Just as Hugh Brewer did, these are people who will leave an indelible mark on Fayetteville. Nurturing and guiding their city through both good and bad times, their meaningful and collective contributions to Fayetteville's growth and success are woven into the fabric of their hometown, and always will be.

The torch has been passed to younger generations in Fayetteville who have more tomorrows than yesterdays. It's up to those younger to build carefully and intelligently upon the work done by those in the past. As Fayetteville's residents embrace growth and change, confront challenges and prepare their city for the future, let's strive to do so in a manner which will honor our predecessors and measure up to the high standards they set for us. We owe it to them and we owe it to ourselves. But more than anything, we all owe it to the place we live. Because just as those who paved the way for us recognized, it really does take a village if we want our hometown to reach its full potential.

Commentary on 05/23/2019

Print Headline: Built on a foundation

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