This in an opinion piece.

When I grew up in the Painter community near Crossville (and Geraldine), the Allens had several neighbors we considered as family. Jerry and Jimmie Davis and their daughters, Spring (Charles) and April (Blanks), and their son, Bear, were some of those folks.

Jerry and Jimmie were farmers, growing crops and raising cattle, hogs and horses. Jerry mowed, raked and baled my dad’s hay. Dad sometimes borrowed Jerry’s rake and raked ahead of him in the field while Jerry followed behind with the baler.

Jerry owned a big tractor ­— I believe it was an International Harvester — and I wanted to play on it or ride it every chance I could. I still remember how thrilled I was as a 7- or 8-year-old boy when Jerry let me ride the tractor with him.

I loved Jerry’s tractor so much my parents gave me a toy replica, complete with implements, as a birthday present. There’s a photo of me celebrating with the tractor tucked away in a drawer or box somewhere at Mom and Dad’s home.

I treasure the memories of time spent with the Davises. I’m thankful for the wonderful influence Jerry and Jimmie had in my life at such an impressionable age.

At 1:12 a.m. on Jan. 8, the Lord called Jerry home. To live is Christ and to die is gain, and Jerry gained eternal healing from the COPD and emphysema that plagued him the latter part of his life.

My path crossed with Spring and her husband, Michael Charles, at lunch Tuesday, and the Charles invited me to sit down with them.

Spring and I laughed, and almost cried, as we reminisced about Jerry. Where did the time go, we wondered? Seems like it was only yesterday when Jerry was working from daylight to dark to provide a living for his family.

Jerry had the biggest, heartiest laugh, and it’s echoed through my mind while writing this.

Jerry’s legacy will never die, because he left an indelible mark on me and everyone who was blessed to know him. I don’t think I ever told Jerry that I loved him, but I did.

Shannon J. Allen is sports editor for The Reporter. He can be reached at shannon.allen@sandmountainreporter.com.

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