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Junie Warren…farewell my friend

It was a cold, cloudy, breezy and drizzly Sunday afternoon when my lifetime friend, Reuben Junius Warren, was laid to rest.

His short life here on Earth (60 years) was not indicative of Sunday’s weather.

The news of his death reached me Friday morning. It was news I didn’t expect. I just recently shared Junie’s company and he appeared fit as a fiddle…as well as being his usual jolly self.

The majority of people in Hertford County knew Junie by his God-given name – Junius. Only the folks around his native Pinetops community, which straddles the Hertford-Northampton County line, knew him as Junie.

I remember one time making a phone call to his place of business…he managed Hertford County Farm Bureau for a number of years. I asked to speak to Junie. When the call was transferred to his desk he told me he knew it was someone from Pinetops because his secretary said the person was asking to speak to Junie…not Junius.

Junie was four years older than I. That wasn’t a big deal growing up in a rural farm community where the children of each and every family were more like brothers and sisters than neighbors.

If you visited the home of a “brother” or “sister” you just walked in like you belonged there…because you did.

If you needed scolding due to some inappropriate action, your second set of parents would not blink an eye to dole out some sort of punishment.

That’s the way it was and still is in Pinetops…just one big family.

To be perfectly blunt, we Pinetopians worried much about Junie back in his teenage years. It seemed he and automobile accidents had a way of finding each other (maybe that’s why, in adulthood, he chose to enter the insurance profession). Some were his fault…others he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There was one particular mishap that could have affected the lives of other Pinetops youngsters, yours truly included. On weekends, the Pinetops boys would gather to play baseball, basketball or football…whatever was in season. Our athletic venues varied, but football was mainly played in an empty lot behind Cecil Futrell’s house.

On one such day, we were “on” for a game in that lot, which was across the main highway (US 258). Junie was supposed to pick-up myself and my cousin Bunky Johnson (Glenn Jr. is his God-given name, but in Pinetops he’s simply Bunky) and give us a lift to the game in the bed of his daddy’s pick-up truck.

As fate would have it, Bunky and I opted to ride our bicycles to the game. Junie, while crossing US 258, pulled into the path of an oncoming vehicle and was involved in a wreck. If Bunky and I had ridden along as originally planned, I may not be writing this column and my cousin’s career as a successful businessman in Raleigh may have never unfolded.

The sun will rise tomorrow on the Warren family. While it may be a sunny and warmer day, they will still feel a cloud hanging overhead with their loss. That cloud will always be there, but it will never stand in the way of remembering all the good times we shared with Junie Warren.

Farewell my friend; you will be missed.

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.