Friday, June 27, 2014
John Brock, a columnist for the Georgetown Times for 15 years, passed away Wednesday at the Lakes in Litchfield.
Brock’s columns made no attempt to place definitive attributes to the South. Instead, avid readers were presented a down home reflection of his experiences as a true southerner.
Brock wrote about everything southern; the women, the men, the children and grandchildren, snakes, food, speed traps, times shares, cooter grappling, and frog gigging.
“Frog gigging,” Brock said, “is a rite of passage in the South for men.”
Brock believed the South was many things, many people, and many cultures; including the non-Southerners he often jabbed in his columns; the same non-Southerners who were some of his staunchest readers.
Living his entire life in the south, Brock enjoyed sharing his first hand musings, while hopefully helping non-Southerners to understand the uniqueness of southern culture and why Southerners are like they are.
Brock believed the South was a place “where life flows like a slow, deep, river, the rhythm of conversation pours like honey, and the air is filled with fragrant scents from God.”
In August, 2013, Brock wrote about being surprised at having written more than 700 columns.
“When I first started, I reckoned that I would continue to write the columns until I had run out of things to say; made everyone mad or the editor decided to cut me off. I may be reaching the limits of all three which should please some readers. But I have written under four editors and three publishers, so, the Good Lord willing, I will endeavor to go on at least another year,” he wrote.
Brock almost reached that “at least another year” goal. He wrote his final column on May 7.
Brock described his writings as “one person’s observations of growing up and living Southern – along with occasional topics of national interest.”
More than 300 of his columns have been compiled in the book “Southern Breezes Whistle Dixie.”
Brock served in the US Army (101st Airborne Infantry Division) during the Korean War era.
He then went into the newspaper business, climbing his way up the ladder from reporter, editor and publisher of several newspapers in the Charlotte area.
It is believed, at age 24, he was the youngest commercial newspaper editor in America.
According to his website, www.southernobserver.com, Brock headed one of the Carolinas largest mechanical contracting firms while dabbling in real estate development and antique lighting fixture manufacture.
“He, at one point, embarked on a motion picture venture during which he produced a number of feature-length movies as well as numerous documentary-type productions. He has made frequent television appearances and was once the spokesman for the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge on the ABC network,” his biography states.
He was also a college professor and vice president of two private colleges. After he retires he continued to serve as consultant to several colleges and universities.
He and his wife, Barbara, were married for more than 50 years.
In his final column, Brock said the goal of his writings was “just present one man’s honest opinion of the circumstances of life at a given point in time. I have no regrets.”
“For many years our commentary page featured John Brock’s opinions and he certainly had a following,” said Georgetown Times Publisher John Carr. “We greatly appreciate all he shared with our readers over the years and our deepest sympathy go out to John’s family.”
While Brock was known mainly for his columns, there were many who knew him as a friend.
Georgetown resident Amber Ward said she met Brock when she was 18-years-old and was working at CVS on North Fraser Street.
“I had been reading his columns and recognized him one day when he came in to the pharmacy and I felt like I had already known him,” she said, adding every time he was in the store they would talk for at least 10 minutes. “He was a sweetheart.”
Brock’s funeral will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church on Highmarket Street in Georgetown. The family will receive friends following the service.