We’re looking for a few good heroes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 4, 2000

Billy McEwen didn’t think of himself as an unsung hero. The young Natchez man was simply looking out for a friend — a lifelong friend — when he rescued Luke Spillers from Lake St. John nearly four years ago. But he saved young Luke’s life on that summer afternoon, and to those who know him, Billy is a hero.

So is Pernell Flowers, the man whom friends described as &uot;listening louder&uot; for opportunities to serve. From pitching in to offer a helping hand to neighbors or simply volunteering on a community project, Pernell is there to help.

And to those who have benefitted from the fruits of his careful listening, Pernell is a hero.

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And so is Estelle Fleming, the retired school teacher whose commitment to making a difference in the lives of young people has led her to open her home to more than 30 foster children. In her home, those children have learned about love, about patience, about acceptance and about strength.

And they have learned what it’s like to find a hero.

The folks at Pleasant Acre Day School know about those heroes, too.

Barry Maricelli is one of them.

Generously sharing his time and talents, Maricelli has done everything from cutting grass at the school to organizing its annual Christmas party at the Natchez Elks Lodge.

And for that work, he’s earned the devotion of more than a few friends at Pleasant Acre.

All these heroes were unsung — at one time.

Their lives and deeds are done quietly, often without drawing attention to the efforts and motives. And these individuals’ lives are shaped by a generosity of spirit — a desire to share whatever blessings and talents they may have with others.

But thanks to friends, family and even the benefactors of that generosity, these heroes were recognized in The Democrat’s annual Profile edition as Unsung Heroes.

Each year, The Democrat honors our community’s Unsung Heroes — young and old — in what has become one of the most beloved parts of our annual Profile edition.

And, each year, when we invite community residents to nominate the Unsung Heroes, I am overwhelmed by the compassion and commitment of everyday people here in the Miss-Lou.

Friends, relatives and co-workers are quick to offer insight into the often unnoticed good deeds and efforts that take place hundreds of times each week.

The stories are heart-warming, whether they involve daring rescues or the simple act of taking fresh flowers to shut-in and elderly members of a church congregation.

And they are honest, which is the most refreshing part of all.

Even though The Democrat has been honoring these Unsung Heroes for nearly two decades, there are hundreds more who’ve yet to be honored. So if you know an Unsung Hero … tell us about him or her.

And let us share the story with everyone this February.

Stacy Graning is editor of The Democrat. Contact her at 446-5172 ext. 239 or via e-mail at stacy.graning@natchezdemocrat.com.