Home Opinion Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Words Finally Come

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Words Finally Come


I’ve been sitting at my keyboard, staring at my fingertips, hoping that some words to describe Marcus Ray Blakely would come.

Finally, I thought of how I used to enjoy reading old issues of the Nashville News because the stories contained the names of the people who literally formed our community. Some of those families don’t even live around here anymore, but the names of the builders, preachers, doctors, judges, lawyers and leaders can still be found on our town’s streets and residential additions.

These were people — long before I came to live here — who formed this community and who influenced new generations to step up to the challenge of community service. To build a better town.

I put Marcus Ray Blakely at the head of those titans.

“I didn’t even know Ray was sick,” a lot of people said.

Well, that’s exactly what he wanted.

He was a quiet guy who did big things. His high school classmates voted him Most Popular. No one else was close.

He was a Marine. He graduated from Henderson State University but he wasn’t on the social register because he held fulltime jobs while he was getting that degree.

He was simply Ray Blakely until he opened his men’s store on South Main. He gave it his full name — Marcus Ray’s Country Gent. After that his friends called him Marcus Ray.

Everyone knows that he was a town business icon later at the furniture store, but did you know that he made rustic chairs and tables by hand and sold them through ads in Southern Living magazine as a hobby? He was a quiet guy, and there were a lot of things you didn’t know about him.

He was a cattleman, and he had a paper route. He gave new meaning to ‘multi-tasking.’

He didn’t just serve on the hospital board at its old and new locations. He was the guy that made the new campus happen. Today that hospital makes Nashville and Howard County the envy of most places. You might not have known that about him.

When our new mayor took office, he asked Marcus Ray if he’d help get new jobs here and solidify our existing industry. You might not have known that he was chairman of the Economic Development Commission. Somehow Marcus Ray found time.

Think the college is important to our community? Marcus Ray’s footsteps are out there, too.

He was a Scrapper football lineman. He was a Baptist deacon and Sunday School teacher.

When Gov. Jim Guy Tucker decided to make Nashville ‘Capital for a Day,’ the chamber of commerce asked Marcus Ray and Shirley to host the governor and his wife overnight.

You would never found out from him that he was named Nashville’s Man of the Year in 1999.

He had just about the best sense of humor in southwest Arkansas. He helped us launch the Leader.

Finally, in the last decade-and-a-half of his life, he faced down a relentless enemy. In doing so, he blessed all of us with a perfect example of how to ignore pain and serve others. I guess it was because he refused to be turned away from things he thought were more important than himself.

Wait! My fingertips are writing. They say: “By any standard, and in any company — whether prince or pauper — our Marcus Ray was a great, great man.”

Peace to his family, and thanks to the Almighty for putting such people among us.

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DAYDREAM BELIEVER. If you worry that North Korea’s Dear Leader has tricks up his sleeve, raise your hand. I can’t count that high. Nevertheless, let us appreciate what has already happened.

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ANIMAL CRACKERS. After the mention in last week’s column about flocks of goldfinches, I have heard from many people who report significant flocks of the golden flashes. Almost every person says they’ve never had the birds in their yards before this year.

Not only that, perfectly normal people report seeing birds they’ve never had before. Orioles. Grosbeaks. If you want to see one of the beautiful orioles set out some orange slices.

One day last week a flock of blackbirds rose in a dark cloud right in front of my buggy. And there in the middle, was a white bird. Albino, I’d guess, but the blackbirds didn’t stick around long enough for me to get a better look.

How many blackbirds in that flock? I’d say about four and twenty. The perfect number for a pie. (I know some of  you won’t ‘get’ this)

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THINGS I LEARNED from opening email: The glue on Israeli postage is certified kosher.

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WORD GAMES. The twins: Bits and Pieces. Separately they’re not much; but added together over time they add up.

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HE SAID: “America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.” George H.W. Bush, 41st President

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SHE SAID: “You just don’t luck into things as much as you’d like to think you do. You build step by step, whether it’s friendships or opportunities.” Barbara Bush, First Lady

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