One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for May 20, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
Good news, we all need a little good news. Good news helps people make it through their daily lives. I have a friend that is really a friend to all of Lumberton, NC and always is bringing everyone good news. His name is Joe Butler.
Joe Butler grew up in Lumberton, lives in Lumberton, and works in Lumberton. In many ways he is the face of our community in a number of different roles.
Joe works for Southeastern Health and along with Morris Bullock is responsible for physician recruitment for the hospital. If you have never recruited in your life you do not know how much energy, preparation, and quite frankly disappointment that activity involves. Joe is the face of Lumberton to prospective doctors and their families. He is good at what he does because he believes in the organization and works hard to be prepared.
Joe and Gaye Cushing are the face of Lumberton to many each holiday season as they serve as master of ceremonies for the Lumberton Christmas Parade. The parade is televised on a tape delay basis by the Broadcasting Department at UNC Pembroke. Joe and Gaye provide the commentary on the floats and they do it with enthusiasm and style. Small town parades are the best and I am blessed to have the parade come right by my house each November and always look forward to seeing Joe and Gaye.
(l-r) Joe Butler, Mary Winfree, and Jeff Neelon
Joe is also the face for community service especially related to supporting children in our community. He does this through his involvement with the Kiwanis Club of Robeson/Lumberton. You can count on Joe to cook pancakes, read books, take children to a college basketball game, participate in Book’em, tee it up in the golf tournament, sell sponsorships, and of course predict with way too much frequency that he will win the club’s annual50/50 raffle each year.
Joe is also the face for fun and laughter with his friends. I can tell you that almost no event can occur without Joe getting a laugh out of a group by telling a story or referencing some character or line from a movie. His memory of lines from Animal House, Caddy Shack, and Blazing Saddles is encyclopedia like.
(l-r) Dan Kenney, Joe Butler, and Steven Bourquin.
Joe is married to a wonderful and beautiful woman named Katie. The Butlers have two sons Joseph and David who are both talented and hardworking young men.
(l-r) Katie Butler, Joseph Butler, Joe Butler, and David Butler
When you are the face of a small town like Joe you have lots of friends including people who work in the news business including Donnie Douglas the editor of the Robesonian.
The Friend-JOE BUTLER
The Friend of the Friend-DONNIE DOUGLAS
An editor of small town newspaper you can get perceived or described in a lot of ways unfortunately a lot of them are negative. One common refrain is they only print the bad stuff.
When you live in county that has some of the challenges that Robeson County has there is going to be bad news that shows up in local paper The Robesonian. The paper has to report on crime, scandals, deaths, and disappointments. It not just our local paper it is the news reporting business that bad news is what drives revenue. When you are the editor of a paper like Donnie Douglas is you can get perceived a all you really care about. People have a hard time doing what I call finding the “bright spots”. Our county, our town, and our paper really do have a lot of positives. I am convinced you will find what you look for. When I look I see a lot of good news.
With Donnie Douglas he has a number of soft spots especially pretty women and babies.
Donnie is someone who has done a lot of good for this community but gets framed as the face of bad news. The Donnie Douglas that Joe Butler knows is the man who will make sure a lot of the feel good stories about what is going on in our county get covered in the paper. I could list a hundred stories that have appeared in the newspaper over recent years that Donnie chose to have the paper run.
If you look for the bright spots you will find them. Donnie has made sure the paper’s empty stocking fund is a focal part of the paper during December each year. The Empty Stocking Fund gives readers the opportunity to donate to those less fortunate each holiday season. There are a lot of smiling children on Christmas morning because Donnie choose to have the paper emphasize that fund-raiser.
Donnie has run stories on the accolades of Robeson citizens that have accomplished great things like Maria Parker riding a bike across the country to raise money for brain cancer research, Mike DeCinti completing an ironman marathon to raise money for breast cancer awareness, the successes of ECU Football Coach Ruffin McNeill, and the good work Joe Butler and his Kiwanian’s do in the community.
Donnie was one of the creators of the local high school basketball tournament called the Robeson County Shoot-Out. He worked tirelessly on selling sponsorships and during the 1980’s his involvement had the event experiencing record success. That tournament is still in existing today thanks to the strong foundation he helped establish.
Donnie has been a big supporter of United Way and his insightful commentary as a judge at the “Dancing with the Stars” is always funny except to the male dancers.
Donnie may get framed as the face of bad news in our community and Joe Butler may get framed as the face of good news. The reality is that our community is better because both of them are here. They both are bright spots.