Farewell my good friend

Published 3:41 pm Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sitting here knowing what I am about to write is likely one of the last things I will ever pen about DuPont L. Davis is a difficult task.

Over the past five or six years, my relationship with DuPont has grown from a newspaper reporter covering a county board to one of mutual respect and friendship. It is a friendship I’ve grown to treasure.

Wednesday I was working on the next edition of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald when Hertford County Commissioner Howard J. Hunter III called me. I could tell in his voice something wasn’t right, but I wasn’t sure what it was.

I asked him what was wrong and his answer nearly floored me.

Of all the things I might have guessed, finding out DuPont was in the hospital and near death would have been very low on the list. It was shocking, it was saddening and it was painful.

Several years ago while working at another newspaper I hired a young reporter. I asked if she had learned everything about journalism in school. She said she had.

My response was, “Well you can forget all of that, because none of it applies here.”

I said that because in a small community, we all work together: local government, citizens and the newspaper. We all know each other. We go to the same churches, shop in the same grocery stores and eat in the same restaurants.

For that reason, I’ve never made a secret about the fact that I have friends on boards that I cover. That friendship will never keep me from doing my job, but it is a fact of life.

I will always treasure my friendship with DuPont. Last year, Lyndal and I were invited to DuPont’s Christmas party and we went. It was a fantastic time and we all shared some laughter and fun. I treasure that memory.

Everyone around DuPont has a favorite story and I’ll share one of mine with you.

Several months ago we were in a meeting of the Hertford County Commissioners. It was a night meeting and it had dragged on so long no one was left but the board, county manager, clerk, attorney and me.

DuPont was giving his Report from Raleigh and had been talking for quite some time when I heard him say, “but don’t put that in the paper, Thadd.”

I looked up at him with a blank stare and told him I couldn’t if I wanted to because I quit listening 15 minutes before. We all got a good laugh.

I enjoyed that because DuPont was always good at getting you and I was glad to get him one time.

I have shared many laughs with DuPont and the other commissioners when I have been in that room.

Unfortunately, that room will never be the same. There’s no way to replace DuPont Davis as a man, as a commissioner or as a friend. He was one of a kind.

As long as I continue to work as a reporter, I will never forget DuPont Davis. He will be a figure that is always etched in my mind. I am thankful for that because I am a better person and better reporter for having known him.

Thadd White is Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or by telephone at 332-7211.