He changed my life


There is a new series about to be shown on CNN. I admit I have it on most of the day while I go about my various activities. The series will feature each of its newscasters and it is entitled “The Person Who Changed My Life.”

I thought of the former Fayette Countian who changed my life in my early 30s and his name is Jimmy Booth.

At that time he was editor of the Fayette County News and frankly, it consisted of Jimmy and the office secretary, Helen Teague. Period.

I would turn in tidbits from my homemaker’s club and Jimmy somehow could see that I could write. I had no idea.

He asked me to come to work as a part-timer and my first assignment was the tornado that had damaged The Links golf clubhouse. It was also my first lesson in correct journalism. He pointed out to me that the first time I first wrote “Sheriff Stinchcomb”, or anyone’s name, you always had to put their first name. Thereafter you could just leave it out when using their name. He taught me Journalism 101.

His biography is two pages long, I will condense it here.

His family came to Fayette County in 1952 when his father was hired as principal of Fayette County High School. His parents were James Cecil and Helen Booth. One of our middle schools is named for his dad.

Moving from one end of Georgia to the other halfway through high school would rattle most students, but not Jimmy. Among a number of things he accomplished at Fayette County High School was editor of the school newspaper and graduating as its class valedictorian. He also earned a scholarship to Emory University. He graduated in 1959 with a B.A. degree in political science.

I continued writing on and off for the Fayette County News and the past 20 years for The Citizen. Here, I learned Journalism 102 from the late Dave Hamrick.

In the mid 1970s I felt the need of putting together a county history, and with the help of a dozen others, we published one in 1977. In 2009. I wrote a short version for the Fayette County Chamber.

Though I was born and raised in Ohio, I have lived in Fayetteville for over half my life. That is the area that I have lived in and written about in this time. In 2004, I spent six years writing about a Confederate soldier from Coweta County and was most pleased when a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and a retired full bird colonel both said it was accurate.

On the dedication page you will find my father mentioned first, and Jimmy Booth mentioned second.

In emailing me a happy birthday recently he wrote: “It was a banner day when you moved to Fayette County and for its citizens when you made your home here.“

No Jimmy, the banner day was when we met and you could see that I had a skill I never knew about. You changed my life.