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DeVenney will be missed, remembered

Published 7:43am Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I know this isn’t the usual day for my column, but I really didn’t want to wait several days before writing this one. As I sit at my desk typing Tuesday afternoon, the subject has been on my mind almost since I woke up this morning.
About 5:30 a.m. or thereabout I heard the news – Jack DeVenney had died around 4 a.m. My friendship with Jack dates back 20 years; and he and his wife, Shirley, have meant a lot to me in numerous ways. There are many others who feel the same way.
There are also an untold number of people who were touched by Jack and his deeds and probably don’t realize it. Even if you didn’t know him personally, if you live in Wetumpka or have been to any of the city’s larger events, you were affected by him.
Have you ever attended Christmas on the Coosa? How about Wetumpka’s Fourth of July celebration or New Year’s Eve shindig? Or maybe an Easter Egg Hunt or a patriotic event? Have you ever been to a Wetumpka Chamber function? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you were indeed touched by Jack’s efforts because he started every one of those events in this city and was instrumental in establishing the chamber of commerce.
For me, Jack embodied the true spirit of community service. The things he did for this city were never undertaken with a goal of being recognized – of collecting pats on the back. Every civic project Jack spearheaded or was involved in was pursued unselfishly with the sole purpose of improving Wetumpka and making this community more attractive for everyone – residents and visitors alike.
And he didn’t just donate his time and creativity. Oftentimes the funding for event decorations, fireworks and other items came straight out of Jack’s pocket. His reward was in seeing people have fun and enjoy being in this community.
I am immensely grateful for my friendship with Jack and Shirley, and know many others feel the same way. I’m really glad I told Jack fairly often how much I admired his modesty, selflessness and contributions to Wetumpka. He was one of a kind.
He will be missed enormously by his family and many friends. Everyone in our office will feel a little odd today when he doesn’t make his weekly visit.
But on a brighter note, Monday he worked at his shop, attended his Lions Club meeting and took care of all the other little tasks and errands he always handled. Jack lived his life as he always had until the very end. He wasn’t confined to a nursing home or hospital, and continued doing the things he loved.
You can’t ask for more than that.
He also left our little corner of the world a much better place than he found it. We should all honor his memory by striving to do the same.
Until next time …

Peggy Blackburn is managing editor of The Wetumpka Her­ald and Elmore County Weekend. She can be reached at 334-567-7811. Her email address is peggy.blackburn@TheWetumpkaHerald.com.

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