Gone But Not Forgotten

If you have ever been to the South magazine office, you know that from Bull Street, it appears to be just a door. A slim frame, snug between the cute primary colors of the Soda Pop Shop and the minimalistic aesthetic of Harper’s boutique, it is entirely unassuming. But for a moment, consider the many distinguished figures that have crossed that simple entryway, climbed a flight of 19 stairs, and emerged into a storm of writers, graphic designers, marketers, and editors, all ready and working to make something amazing. This is a description of every day for the past ten years. How many faces have we seen through that glass door pane, on their way up for an interview, a photo shoot, or just to stop by and say hello? These people are what make our publication not just a magazine but a masterpiece – they provide the depth, profundity and interest that not only sells issues, but spreads stories, opens hearts and inspires great ideas. In gratitude for their inclusion in South, we want to highlight some of these celebrated Southerners that have since passed away. They stepped through that modest doorway on Bull Street into the pages of South magazine, as well as the hearts of all our readers. They will not be forgotten.

Remembering the jogfather, Robert Espinoza – Featured on the cover of Issue #42, Photography: Ryan Gibson

Few people had as much an impact on health, fitness, and community in Savannah as Robert Espinoza. Crowned “The Jogfather” in our Dec/Jan 2012 issue, this local running guru and Savannah kingpin revolutionized the Savannah running scene with races, events and his brainchild running store, Fleet Feet.  His charitable contributions, connection to the community and passionate vision will never be forgotten.

1. Jay Hiers 

“He was the kind of guy who walked into a room and was like a magnet. Everyone just wanted to be around him.“ Jay Hier’s cousin, Bobby Deen, remembers “Jay Bird” as the life of the party. His outgoing and magnetic personality played a huge role in his responsibilities as a manager of his aunt Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady and Sons, as well as in his interactive role in the community. This Georgia native and SCAD grad will always be remembered as one of the greatest hosts of the south, as well as a great friend to South magazine.

2. Ben Tucker 

The opener of a jazz club in Savannah called Hard-Hearted Hannah's, a regular at the Westin hotel, where he played the Sunday jazz brunch, and a man whose impact could be felt deeply in fields like broadcasting, music publishing, and Saturday-morning television, Ben Tucker was an icon in the Savannah’s music community. But Ben Tucker's legacy reached beyond jazz clubs and T.V. jingles. "One of the most interesting things about playing with Ben was he was so beloved by so many people in Savannah,” said Howard Paul, a jazz guitarist who played and recorded with Tucker for more than 20 years. Tucker is remembered today as a good man, a talented musician and a longstanding influence on the Savannah jazz scene.

3. Robyn Reeder 

Let me tell you about a woman who worked, performed, and lived with cancer for 11 years. Let me tell you about a woman who fiercely, playfully, and passionately pursued her ideas, interests and inclinations. Robyn Reeder was a wild ball of whimsy, spontaneity and industrial drive focused on executing a creative vision. Some people achieve an idea in an instance or a flash but Reeder lived in a perpetual state of brainstorming. She threw parties, performed as a drummer in two bands and ran her downtown art shop, Primary Arts Supply, with a fantastic  artistic and professional finesse – all amidst a raging battle with cancer. Reeder claimed that she “had this series of goals that really helped [her] keep going.” "Civvies", another local favorite, in addition to the origin of the coolest arts store Savannah has ever known had Robyn at her core as an artist, a visionary, and in the world of her close friend Kevin Rose, "A force
of nature."

4. Ron Higgins 

Ron “Hollywood” Higgins brought a greater appreciation of film and film history to the Savannah community. The founder of Savannah Movie Tours, Higgins was an inspirational and charitable part of Savannah. With his 16-seater coach, unparalleled enthusiasm and entrepreneurial flair, he traversed the Savannah movie scene, transformed the Savannah tourism industry and guided our community to a greater knowledge and love of film. 

5. William Webb

Voted one of the South’s greatest kids in our Oct/Nov 2014 issue, William was a truly unique and sweet spirit. After his 11 month battle with cancer and tragic passing in 2015, his gentle goodness is still felt today by those who were lucky enough to know him, as well as those who have been participating in the nonprofit organization inspired by him and his fight against neuroblastoma: The Warriors for William Foundation. William’s 2014 title still holds true today; he will forever be one of the South’s greatest kids. 

6. Al St. Lawrence 

Serving and protecting Chatham County for six decades, St. Lawrence was a fighter in every sense of the word. After being honorably discharged in 1956 from the Air Force, St. Lawrence decided to make Savannah his home. His zeal, will and valor were the backbone of the Chatham County Sheriff's Office. In the midst of his battle with cancer, St. Lawrence continued to serve the community. His illness made no difference in his career. St. Lawrence showed that life has to be lived well, no matter what the circumstances. 

7. UGA VII 

Notable for his laid-back and unruffled demeanor, Uga VII had a successful year and ended his first season with a record of 10-3. Unfortunately, his tenure ended abruptly, near the end of his second season, when he passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 19, 2009 of heart-related causes. It was the Thursday before the final home game of the 2009 season and rather than have a live mascot at the game, the Bulldogs placed a wreath on Uga VII's doghouse, and the players wore a special Uga VII decal on their helmets to remember the lovable, 56-pound furball.