THE WAY I SEE IT: Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
In Aug. 16 issue, Russell County News
By Barbara Sharp Zimmerman, Columnist
“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you. . .”
Simon & Garfunkel
Thruston B. Antle died the Friday before the Monday I’m writing this column, and I’m wondering what his obituaries will say about him. If they say simply that he was a retired operator with the Corps of Engineers at Wolf Creek Dam, they will have missed the essence of the man as surely as they did when they called Carl Phelps “a farmer” (my Dad wrote a letter to the editor over that one).
Thruston Antle may have lived most of his life in the small town of Jamestown, but he was one of our local stars, an unassuming gentleman and truly a Renaissance man who painted beautiful pictures (including the baptistry background at the Jamestown Christian Church), read widely, thought deeply, gave freely of himself, could fabricate just about anything and had an abiding curiosity about most everything.
At his funeral, his niece, Laura Henry Harris (daughter of his late sister, Jo Antle Henry), noted that he spent countless hours with the Jamestown Volunteer Fire Department, and since he lived just across the street from the fire department, he usually was the first man on the scene when the fire siren sounded.
I remember Thruston driving a bunch of us Methodist youth to the State Park to swim, and he wasn’t even a member of our church! But that was the kind of guy Thruston was. If somebody needed something, he’d pitch in.
Perhaps his most important role was that of a scout leader in the late 1950s and 1960s. According to Jack Jordan Phelps, Phil Butler started the troop, but Thruston, Velmer Foley and Leonard Wilson all joined in to help herd the bunch, which included the aforementioned Jack, Jack Brent Lawless, Bobby Wilson, Thruston’s son Jordy, Walter Powell, Rodney and John Lawrence, Kenneth Hay, Alben and Gibson Foley, Grover Johnson, David Lee Holt and Russell Butler. Two of the group, Jack Phelps and Jordy Antle, eventually achieved Eagle Scout rank.
Thruston and the others took the scouts to Washington, D. C., to Florida and on many, many camping trips. In town for the visitation, Jack Brent said, “I owe those four men a lot. They were like fathers to me.”
Jack Jordan said, “Phil was the real boss of the Scouts. Leonard did great at the front of the room, a great public speaker, and Velmer could rig anything – the best carpenter I ever knew. But the creative spark, the idea man, the one who made both the Troop and Post so special and exemplary, that was Thruston Antle. That man had talent.”
Yes, Thruston Antle had remarkable talent and he used it generously, usually giving it away – the mark of a truly selfless man who possessed great wealth in every way but monetarily. Where are the iconic men – and women – such as Thruston Antle who will give away their time, talent and energy now to those who need it, especially our young people? We will miss him particularly because there were, and are, so few like him.
I agree with Jack Jordan who noted the day of the funeral, with sadness, “The world was a better place when Thruston Antle was alive in it.”
And I wonder where can we possibly turn our lonely eyes now?