By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Back in the thick of our COVID Capers, I received a call from a guy I had never met, and when we talked the first time over the phone, I honestly thought he was someone else. Degan Wilder was a friend of Jerry Barksdale’s, and Jerry had been the first one to tell him about the paper. Degan asked me a simple and powerful question: “What can I do to help you get Athens Now’s message out?” Touched as well as intrigued, I replied, “Well, we could really use some help with delivery.”

Then Jerry died, and Degan was a pall bearer at the funeral. Due to COVID, only 10 people could attend, and I was glad that Jerry had a friend like Degan to honor him as a fellow veteran. Somehow it made the loss of my friend and faithful columnist just a bit easier.

The decision that Steve and I made to print the full run of 4,000 papers during “Safer-At-Home” was made in part to make sure that the Times Daily stayed open. Accounts that had printed with them for years were cancelling right and left, and what happened to us was that people came out of the woodwork to offer to deliver the paper to places other than the many locations that had had to temporarily close. Degan was one of those people, and he cheerfully and tirelessly worked to get the paper out to places it had never been.

One day Degan told me that when he was still working for Boeing in Charlotte, NC, he wished he could work for us. Mind you, the man worked for Boeing for 30 years, and his work had taken him all over the world. Why in the world would he want to work for us? In a word, he believed in us and what we were trying to do for the city of Athens.

So, it is with great honor I introduce to you the guy who has been a hardworking and truly helpful addition to our staff: Degan Wilder. His official title is “Distribution and Marketing,” which means that he wears a lot of hats, and we are most grateful. Degan is a decorated Vietnam veteran, and he and his wife Christy attend Lindsay Lane Baptist Church. He is a dad, a grandpa, and a great-grandpa.

Degan has been riding dirt bikes since he was a kid, and still tries to go every weekend. He also loves to tinker with stuff, tell goofy jokes, and send out hilarious vids and GIFs. He is full of ideas, stuff I have either never thought of, or just didn’t know how to find the time to implement. I have a friend who has prayed literally for years that someone would come along to help, and her prayers have been answered.

I hope that as Degan is out and about doing his Athens Now thing, you will treat him with the same kindness you have shown me. It makes the all the difference in the world. And Degan, thank you, and welcome aboard!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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