Three gentle souls slip quietly into the night

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, August 16, 2011

There’s an old saying that bad news travels in threes.

Such is the case with the recent deaths of a trio of people whose paths crossed mine at some point and, later in life, became close allies of this crusty old journalist.

I was aware prior to going on vacation last week of the passing of Molly and Doug Eubank. From talking with the folks “in the know” over in Murfreesboro, Molly’s death was not unexpected; she had been courageously battling cancer for a while, but yet never let that dreadful disease detract from her faithful duties as a Councilwoman for the Town of Murfreesboro.

Molly and I became close during her time as Murfreesboro’s Town Administrator. Back when I was just breaking into the newsroom after spending 11 years working the sports desk of this newspaper, I was unwise to the ways of town government. I sought advice from those within municipal government and many offer words of wisdom, but none put it better than Molly. She spoke my language – simple and to the point. What a big help she was in helping me launch my “news” career and for that I’m thankful.

Molly was a natural fit for the Murfreesboro Town Council after she retired as Town Administrator. She could have sought the title of Queen of Murfreesboro, if there was such a position, and won by a landslide.

I knew her husband Doug through his position as an art instructor at Chowan University. Doug was a like a big, old teddy bear, with a heart of gold. There was never a time I saw Doug without his trademark big smile.

In the week after September 11, 2001, we were swamped with stories of patriotism shown by the residents of the Roanoke-Chowan area. One I vividly remember is of Doug, camped out on the shoulder of the Murfreesboro Bypass waving an American Flag. Nearly each and every vehicle that passed by honked their horn while I was conducting an interview of Doug’s “red-white-and-blue” tribute.

Doug had medical issues of his own, battling diabetes for a number of years. He lost his legs to that disease, but never lost his lust for life. His heart, grieving over the loss of his wife of 43 years, stopped beating on Aug. 5 – less than one week after Molly’s death.

Perhaps the biggest shock came Saturday while at home, reading my daughter’s copy of that day’s News-Herald where I came across the obit of Warren Sexton.

For those of us who remember, Warren Sexton was a high school basketball referee who called the game back when it was a real sport and not the no holds barred, blood bath circus it is today. The modern version of the game is more like hockey, just without the pads.

Warren was a stickler for the rules and enforced them to the letter. For him there was no “grey area” when it came to a foul.

I knew of Warren’s love for history and geography and was fortunate to have him as one of my professors while a student at what was then Chowan College.

Later I was lucky to serve with Warren as a member of the Hall of Fame committee at Chowan. His love for those student-athletes was second to none…so much to the point that he and his wife annually paid for one of the rings received by a new inductee.

We lost three giants of the Roanoke-Chowan area in less than two weeks. To the families left behind to mourn those respective losses, all I can say is thanks for sharing your loved ones with those of us fortunate enough to have our lives impacted by these gentle souls.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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