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What’s In A Name? — By Tommy Purser

My mother’s maiden name was Proctor. Daughter of Ralph and Retta (Sapp) Proctor.
Sapp, by the way, is a name deeply rooted in the coastal lowlands and marshes of Glynn County along the Georgia coast. That’s where my mother’s maternal family hails from. I, myself, was born in Glynn County, a Sapp descendant born in an area teeming with Sapp family, young and old.
We didn’t live in Brunswick and Glynn County very long so my connection to family there is practically non-existent.
My grandfather, Ralph Proctor, had deep ties to Charlotte and Mecklenberg County in North Carolina. Those ties, I suppose, led my mother’s childhood family to relocate to Charlotte. That’s where she met my father, Carlton Miller Purser.
With their marriage and my subsequent birth, I, too, had ties with Charlotte and environs. But, alas, we didn’t live in Charlotte and Mecklenberg County very long so my connection to family there is practically non-existent. However, I once had strong ties to that family but, today, most of the family I knew have passed away. As a result, I haven’t been to Charlotte in years. There’s no one there I know well enough to make the hours long trip to visit. My aunts and uncles, great aunts and uncles, and first cousins are all gone now. I was the youngest of all the Purser cousins. Only three of us remain — me, my sister, and cousin Stella who lives far away in New Jersey, I believe.
I once was in love with Stella, who is nine or ten years my senior. She was stunningly gorgeous. A Natalie Wood lookalike, which wouldn’t mean much to younger readers but would certainly register with readers of my age and older. Stella was 16 when I was around 7.
My late cousin, Michael, who was also Stella’s cousin, admitted to me a few years before his death that he, too, was in love with his older cousin during his pre-teen years.
Cousin Stella, by the way, now goes by the name Nancy Shernov — the surname is her married moniker and Nancy was our grandmother’s name — Nancy Virginia Austin Purser. Nancy Virginia, better known to me and my sister as Jamma, was my sister’s namesake.
I wasn’t named for family, however. As the story was told to me, when my mother gave birth to my older sister, Nancy, the delivery was quite difficult and doctors advised her against having more children. But, within a few months, mother was pregnant again. My delivery, like my sister’s, was difficult and a cesarean birth was necessitated. The Brunswick doctors who delivered me and saved both my and my mother’s life were Thomas Coe and Howard Collins (or was it Thomas Collins and Howard Coe?) Thus my name: Thomas Howard Purser.
My son, Tommy Jr., and my grandson, Tommy III or Trey, also carry the names of those two Brunswick doctors.

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