A long overdue thank you

Published 4:23 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A gentleman.

A leader.

A servant.

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A true family man.

These are just a few of the descriptions that were tossed out Monday as the Greenville Lions Club honored one of its own, who just so happens to be one of our own as well.

William E. Hardin Jr., better known around the Camellia City as Mr. Gene, turns 90 today.

Mr. Gene served as the editor of the Greenville Advocate for 27 years.  He’s one of the greats in our business.

In 2004, the Alabama Press Association presented Mr. Gene with a Lifetime Achievement Award. That’s the highest honor given by the APA. Only 26 journalists have received the award.

Mr. Gene is truly a great newspaperman. Some have even suggested he has ink in his blood.

But it wasn’t his excellent writing, his skill with a camera or his ability to take an OK story and edit into a great story that won him the award. Sure, those things were important, but when Mr. Gene was presented his award none of those things were mentioned.

Instead, Jim Cox, the then-president of the APA, cited Mr. Gene’s service to his community.

While we certainly admire Mr. Gene’s ability to tell a story and his desire for the Advocate to be a voice for the community, what we admire most about our longtime editor is his desire to help his community thrive.

Over the years he has selflessly given his time in a number of ways to help make our city a better place, and for that we are grateful.

We’re sure that if Mr. Gene is reading this now he’s cringing a bit. He’s not one to draw attention to himself.

Humble is another word that was used to describe Mr. Gene on Monday.

But we felt it would be appropriate on his big day to say thank you to Mr. Gene for all he has done over the years for the Advocate and the City of Greenville.

It’s well deserved and probably long overdue. So, thank you and happy birthday, Mr. Gene.