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Making A Positive Change — By Tommy Purser

As readers have most likely learned by now, this issue of the Ledger marks the end of my fiftieth year at the helm of this newspaper.

So, let me tell you about the very first person I met in Jeff Davis County after I crossed over the Altamaha River via the Uvalda Bridge for the first time 50 years and a couple of months ago with the good wife and our then 15-month-old only child.

It was our first trip to Jeff Davis County. We were here to ride around Hazlehurst and take a look at the small town that would soon become our new home. The newspaper was for sale and I was interested. But first, I wanted to take a look at the town. And I needed the good wife’s approval.

During our visit we stopped at The Village Inn Restaurant situated in an antelbellum-style structure on the north side of town. Later on, locals began referring to the old home as “The Big House,” and the name stuck.

While I was gone to pay the check, a sweet, kind lady — attracted by our young daughter’s huge eyes — struck up a conversation with Kay, oohing and awing over the cute little toddler sitting in a high chair next to Kay, her eyes wide with wonder at the lady doting over her. As I arrived back at the table, the lady introduced herself to me. “Hello,” she said, extending her small hand in welcome. “I’m Margaret Cochran.”

Margaret Cochran and her husband A.B. have long gone on to their rewards in heaven. But I have never forgotten her. I’ve never forgotten the kind, genuine, smiling welcome she gave a young couple that spring afternoon, a couple whom she had never seen before and knew nothing about.

That encounter with Margaret Cochran had as much to do with our decision to spend the next five decades in Hazlehurst as anything else. Her warm welcome, endearing smile and sweet nature sold us on Hazlehurst.

Over the years, I’ve seen example after example of how one person can make a positive change in peoples’ lives.

Margaret Cochran was that person for us.

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